This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Winter 2011, Vol.6, Issue1
En g a
W he t ving r Se
o rl d
ACS Athens is a student-centered international school, embracing American educational philosophy, principles and values.
A World Class International School Leading Innovation in Education
Ethos is a bi-annual publication of ACS Athens showcasing the life and activity of the Institution Publisher: ACS Athens Editor-in-Chief: Leda Tsoukia Production team: John Papadakis, Marianna Savvas, Stacy Filippou, Peggy Pelonis, Anna Velivasaki Contributors: ACS Athens Faculty, Staff, Students, Parents and Alumni Art Direction, Design & Printing: Multimedia SA Cover Design & Concept: Leda Tsoukia (ltdesign) Copyright © 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine (text or images) may be reproduced without the consent of the publisher.
Through excellence in teaching and diverse educational experiences, ACS Athens challenges all students to realize their unique potential: academically, intellectually, socially and ethically – to thrive as responsible global citizens.
How to Contact Us
Office of the President Office of Enrollment Management & Community Relations Admissions Office Reception Office of Alumni Affairs Human Resources Office Business Office Office of Academic Affairs & Innovative Programs Office of Student Services Cashier Bookstore Transportation Office Health Office Cafeteria Academy Office Academy Discipline Middle School Office Middle School Discipline ext. ext. ext. ext. ext. ext. 263, 206, ext. ext. 202, 402, ext. ext. ext. ext. ext. ext. ext. ext. ext. ext. 201 263 251 233 207 204 207 409 226 208 214 239 217 236 222 404 261 267 Elementary School Office IB Office Stavros Niarchos Learning Center HS/MS Media Center / Library ES Library Publications Office Athletic Office Theater Office Security Night Entrance Security ext. 229 ext. 247, 244 ext. 237, 265 ext. 219, 220 ext. 293 ext. 271 ext. 327, 401 ext. 331, 302 ext. 240 210-6393555
American Community Schools of Athens 129 Aghias Paraskevis Αγίας Παρασκευής 129 Tel.: 210-639-3200-3 GR 152 34 Halandri 152 34 Χαλάνδρι 210-601-6152 Athens, Greece Αθήνα, Ελλάδα Fax: 210-639-0051 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.acs.gr
Letter from the Editor: “Engaging minds serving the World”
Our theme brings ideas to mind, ideas that are agents compelling us to think, act, influence, change, motivate… Our authors have uncovered many layers and many secret corners to share with you in this edition of Ethos magazine. I believe that you are going to enjoy this Ethos as much as I did when reading every article on our subject. Reflecting on our theme and trying to put my personal signature on this issue, I couldn’t help but recollect words of great philosophers and writers that in the past had an impact and influenced my work through the years. How interesting it is to take an idea and instead of abstracting it outwards, to the neighborhood, city, country and planet, actually take the journey the other way around, into the person and being? Michel de Montaigne, the great 16th century French philosopher (and ancient Greek and Neoplatonic philosophers before him) spoke about the macrocosm and microcosm: No matter how far an idea may travel, from the largest scale (macrocosm or universe level) all the way down to the smallest scale (microcosm or atomic level), the findings remain amazingly rich and more importantly: Surprisingly relevant! What if our theme were to be examined from a personal point of view? Montaigne said that “the notion of private self-cultivation (or self-governance) stands as an ethical idea and an important step to the good life … One cultivates oneself by examining oneself.” Emotional engagement is the key word… It is what lies at the essence of every human being’s psyche and consequently with their immediate others, neighbors, environment and so on. It is the one thing that completely changes us and bonds us; can pass from one to the other, creating a “chain reaction” that can affect more than one group or, across time, generation after generation. An educator who loves their work will engage the student beyond the intellectual level; an emotional engagement infused with true interest and genuine care. The educator will inspire and teach the students to love what they do. The “affected” students will employ this understanding in their own life, as engaged minds serving the World. This editorial is different. As an artist, I express myself through images. I would like to share a small visual story with you, in hope that we will be able to communicate on a more personal level. The captions are the words of one of my favorite writers, André Gide and show what binds together Engaging Minds and Serving the World. Leda Tsoukia Ethos Magazine Editor
I was then a child
I did not understand
while the Soul that the Mind passes,
still remains after Death.
What is the Soul?
The Soul is our Will to Love... *
* André Gide Line Art: Leda Tsoukia
Student Services 19 Enhancing Education 46 Cellebrations 42
Office of IB/AP Programs 38
Table of Contents
Our Mission Editor Q & A with the President PrOjEctiOns “Engaging Minds Serving the World” Stefanos Gialamas 3 4 8 12 institUtE fOr innOVAtiOn AnD crEAtiVity, AMEricAn fEstiVAL 2012 EnHAncing EDUcAtiOn 7th Annual Conference on Learning Differences After School: Learning Enhancement Program Engaging teacher’s minds and serving students: Techniques for Building Resiliency in the Classroom “Knots, cheeseburgers and ball point pens”: A knotty approach for shadow teachers to bond together at ACS Athens AUtHEntic Acs “It’s the Place” 44 46 47 47 49
AWArDs ACS Athens Student Receives Certificate for Outstanding Writer Achievement ACS Athens Parent Receives Prestigious Award Commended Students in the 2012 National Merit® Scholarship Program Arête Award Winners: 2010-2011 Rannelle McCoy stUDEnt sErVicEs Preparing Students for Best-Fit Colleges Freshman Connection Day The Birth of a Tradition Interview with Kiki A philosophy of life becomes a Tradition The Village Project The Student Life and Wellness Program Serving the ACS Student Stelios Kalogridakis, Stacie La Grow Ellen Froustis-Vriniotis Christina Birbil Celeste Hollingsworth Marla Coklas Ellen Froustis-Vriniotis
Christiana Perakis Irene Soteres Christiana Perakis Kathleen Jasonides, Janet Karvouniaris, Amalia Zavacopoulou Alex Stelea Helen Sarantes Dora Andrikopoulos
14 14 15 16 19 20 21 22 25 26 27 30 32
51 54 55 56
innOVAtiOn & tEcHnOLOgy Student answers the call for innovation ACS Students Pilot Choosito! MAtH MinD Learning to Love Mathematics PErfOrMing Arts Enhancing self esteem through mindfulness training AtHLEtics Is the distance barrier a stumbling block for our student athletes? A Hybrid Sport Competition ACS Athens Runs at the Race for the Cure PUBLicity “Textbooks' second life” OPErAtiOns The Textbook Chain ALUMni AffAirs Alumni News ACS all classes/all school reunion 2012 “Engaging minds, serving the world” Back then when...
Helen Liakos, Zaharo Hilentzaris Positively Adjusting at ACS Athens Alessandra Sax-Lane, Jeff Kalas Changing the world one step at a time Ryan Haidis, Niki Cocorelis, John Dimopoulos, Stephanos Kavvadias Open House at the Optimal Learning Program Chrysoula Ploutou OfficE Of iB/AP PrOgrAMs Learning Beyond the Classroom Walls Creativity, Action, Service IB Year 1 students reflect on their experiences from the IB Retreat cOLLEgE BOUnD Reflections on the College Board Evening cELLEBrAtiOns ACS Athens Halloween Carnival The Night before Friday the 13th Looking at our past, serving our future Julia Tokatlidou Raseel Sharaf
36 37 38 39 40
Annie Constantinides Athanasia Kotsiani Athanasia Kotsiani
60 61 62 63
Marianna Savvas Demetrios Kiritsis Ann Lappas-Stiles Joe Russo Sapfo Paleologou
64 66 67 68 69
Annie Constantinides 42 Frida Johansson 42 Irini Rovoli, Anastasia Papageorgiou 43
Q & A with the President
Stefanos Gialamas, Ph.D. President The American Community Schools of Athens
The Annual ACS Athens Presentation to the parents by the President Dr. Stefanos Gialamas took place in October 2011. It shows the path that the school will follow and its ultimate objectives for the upcoming years. These questions and answers cover the key points of his speech.
Q: ACS Athens is a very well respected institution, not only in the academic successes of the students (100% graduation rate, 100% college admission, 98% placement on the first and second college choice in 20102011) but also in preparing global citizens serving humanity (Model United Nations, Soup kitchen, visits to less fortunate areas in Greece, helping student improve their immediate environment and so on). Where does the school want to go from here? What does holistic, meaningful, harmonious education mean? A: Today’s student population is so diverse and reflects complex societal structures and challenges; the opportunities and learning outcomes for students attending academic institutions are directly related to the educational experience they receive. This educational experience must be a comprehensive learning experience based on their academic, physical, spiritual, ethical, and social engagement development. Furthermore, the ability to cope with change is essential in assimilating this experience and using it to make decisions on a personal and professional level. It is the holistic, meaningful and harmonious educational experience based on universal principles and values that embraces the concept of serving the family, the community, the nation and the world. Holistic refers to the understanding and successful combination of academic, emotional, physical, intellectual and ethical components to ensure a healthy, balanced individual; an individual who can be principled and inspire others to do the same.
Meaningful relates to the degree of congruence of educational goals and outcomes with students’ dreams, strengths, talents, and desires. In addition, meaningfulness ensures correspondence between one’s principles and values, and one’s personal and professional life goals. Harmonious is the designation given to motion of synchrony and agreement among the various and often competitive dimensions of humanity. In other words, intelligence, intellect and competencies must be harmoniously integrated with empathy, decisionmaking, and social engagement. We want to establish an environment where knowledge is individually and socially designed and constructed by learners (students, faculty, staff, administration, parents, Board of Trustees) who are all active participants in the changes in the world, active questioners, agile problem posers and critical and creative problem solvers. In addition, the learner must evolve as a leader “who knows thyself” (as defined by Aristotle) and adhere to adopted principles and values that are in harmony with personal and professional goals in life. Q: Holistic education: How is being a good citizen something that can be taught, that can become a way of life? Are students taught the meaning of community service? A: We are striving to become an institution that inspires all of its community members to become better human
beings. You see, for many decades thousands of universities and hundreds of thousands K-12 institutions were preparing many young people to become skillful members of society, with enormous competencies in a variety of areas (technology, economics and media). Yet, we are all witnessing this world crisis. Instead of making the planet a better place to live in, we see poverty, violence, hunger and billions of kids without a future. The question is, why? I believe there is an ethical crisis. We (educators) failed to instill the ethics and the purpose of leadership, which is none other than to serve humanity, in our graduates, who went on to become business executives, bankers, ministers, prime ministers and presidents. It is more important to help a child build his/ her life and materialize his/her dreams rather than to accumulate more wealth, more power and more material goods. We at ACS Athens are looking to develop the concept of community service and engagement, culminating in community service commitment. This community service commitment is the continuous engagement on a programmatic and comprehensive level to improve people, conditions and life without being concerned with personal benefit. Q: Could you give us some examples on how students can succeed in significantly serving humanity? How can they become important not only for themselves but also for others? A: Significantly serving humanity should not be confused with the “size” of the contribution. A high school student who spends two to three days a week
teaching piano to an elementary school student is making an equally significant contribution as a student who commits himself to serving meals to underprivileged people every week. It is equally significant that a student devotes weeks (time being one of our most valuable assets, together with health) to creating a painting and donating it to an institution for people with physical and mental problems. It is equally significant that a student goes to an orphanage to sing and play musical instruments and offers the children a moment of happiness and smiles. Over the years, ACS Athens students will carry with them these fulfilling experiences and images of helping people and serving their community – there are hundreds of these acts of community service. Every time they are called on to make important, influential decisions, they will be guided by their commitment to see other people happy and will not harm them with their unethical decisions. Q: ACS Athens strives to be a different institution and to understand what new types of knowledge are needed. How can ACS Athens supply students with the wisdom and critical thinking they will need? A: Wisdom and critical thinking are directly related to the educational experience students receive at ACS Athens. This is comprised of an appropriate curriculum, an inspiring learning delivery where the faculty leader is central, and also extends outside the classroom, via serving the community. The curriculum must be SCRI S: New skills development C: Critical Thinking R: Relevance to other disciplines and daily life I: Inspiration for innovation and expressing understanding of complex content in a fresh and authentic way. Faculty leaders are the inspiration for students to view
learning as a way of becoming better human beings, regardless of their professional interest. Community Service is the “field of action” for students to manifest the accomplishments of the previous two elements, knowledge, wisdom and service without experiencing recognition and reward. Q: What are the new degrees offered by ACS Athens? Are courses the only requirement for the new diplomas? A: The concept of the ACS Athens honors diploma is a reflection of our commitment to the educational experience we provide to students. In fulfillment of ACS graduation requirements, ACS students will complete honors diploma requirements as follows: (i) Three uniquely designed authentic honors- level courses: • 10th grade – American Studies/American Literature Combo Class (an interdisciplinary team-taught inquiry into Literature, History and Social Studies) • 11th/12th grade – Humanities (an interdisciplinary team-taught inquiry into Literature/Art History/History/Philosophy incorporating field study experiences in Athens, Delphi, Mystras, Paris and Florence and Rome. A two-year program: students may enroll for one or two years.) • 12th grade – Leadership and Ethics (ii) Six additional honors-level courses (from the selection of available AP and IB courses) in grades 11 and 12 to fulfill graduation requirements in Language and Literature, Social Studies, Mathematics, Science and the Arts (iii) Senior research demonstration project (iv) Continuous participation for one full year in one of the existing comprehensive community service programs OR design and implementation of a new comprehensive program with measurable outcomes.
Q: What is the goal of “social commitment” and “social engagement”? What do you want to achieve with this? A: The three levels are: social interest or awareness (for Elementary School students); social engagement (Middle School students); and social commitment (Academy). Social Interest is an extension of the self into the community – a collective responsibility and striving to the betterment of the community. This may include interest beyond people, such as in animal welfare and the environment – social engagement is the ability to put that interest into action. It is the second stage after becoming aware of a social condition. It is the start of developing strategies of engagement in bettering the condition and providing partial solutions. Social Commitment is the level where the betterment of a situation or the human condition becomes a way of life for students, as they develop a positive mindset towards improving aspects of society in a comprehensive and continuous way. The goal for students traveling from social interest to social commitment is that the students move towards a deeper feeling of commitment and responsibility. By viewing themselves as part of the problem as well as the solution, they can increase their sense of belonging within a community or society, which in turn fosters collaboration and action geared towards improving this community. In a school culture that promotes social commitment and puts innovation into practice, the social spectrum defined above becomes part of the daily learning experience, whether within the curriculum, through community projects, role modeling, mentoring or researching. We aim to inspire Arête: excellence with ethos. Q: Could you explain “Authentic ACS Athens Courses”? Is there a way for a student to apply these course credits towards their university studies?
A: These are courses that do not exist in any other curriculum (IB, AP, or others) and were designed (content) by the ACS Athens faculty, sometimes with the guidance of university professors. In addition, the delivery modality and assessment also are unique and authentic. For example, in the Combo class (10th grade) the course includes “The Truman Trial”. Students research President Truman’s decision to use nuclear weapons against Japan from all aspects and a comprehensive “simulation” trial takes place. This ends with a decision on whether Truman was “guilty” for the atrocities against humanity or not. Another authentic course is Leadership and Ethics based on the leadership program developed between the University of Richmond, Virginia and ACS Athens. After four years, this “leadership program” has evolved to an annual course, Leadership and Ethics. Q: What are the options in delivering modalities? What are the hybrid courses and what is the purpose of offering mixed courses? A: The modalities are: • Face-to-face - classes are 80 minutes or 40 minutes long. • Hybrid - 2/3 of teaching time is face-to-face and 1/3 takes place on-line. Students learn in two environments – the classroom and the virtual environment. Materials and assessment take different forms, related to the environment. • Pure online – entire learning process occurs online with online assessment. We believe and are committed to a “student learning” approach. Students learn differently and our society demands of all citizens to live and operate in an environment that is defined by all the above modalities. Services, business, information and communication occurs faceto-face, hybrid and online. Therefore, our students are not only exposed to these realities, but they develop and acquire competencies necessary to become functional and productive members of today’s society. Q: How do you develop the human factor? How does one become a faculty leader? What is the difference
between a teacher and teacher who is also a leader? How do you empower the faculty to become leaders? A: According to Professor Senyo Adjibolosoo (leading expert in Human Factor development) the Human Factor refers to “the spectrum of personality characteristics and other dimensions of human performance that enable social, economic and political institutions to function and remain functional over time. Such dimensions sustain the working and application of the rule of law, political harmony, disciplined labor force, just legal systems, respect for human dignity and the sanctity of life, and social welfare”. (2005) In the article “Can the Human Factor Concept be Taught?” by A. Cherif, B. Afori-Amoah, and Stefanos Gialamas (2000, The Review of Human Factor Studies), the authors conclude that “the human factor concept can be taught in the classroom and in a formal educational setting. But, because people have been exposed throughout their lives to a wide variety of values, issues and difficult situations that collectively mold their views and beliefs in and about dedication, responsibility, accountability, honesty and integrity both in life and work, education cannot be effective if it is not supported by internal, external and personal factors. External factors include the behavior of members of the government, elected officials, community, civic and spiritual leaders, teachers and famous personalities from popular sports, entertainment, etc. Internal factors include those values practiced by your family members. Personal factors include awareness of the power and unique capacity within every individual to learn, to understand and to know when and how to act or behave in different situations.” How do we develop the Human Factor? Fundamental concepts of Human Factor development are integrated or embedded in every course in every discipline. Appropriate student-faculty interaction can help foster the development of Human Factor. Active learning that capitalizes on the learner’s prior knowledge and experience. Appropriate leadership philosophy needs to be ad-
hered to, empowering all members of the institution (students, faculty and administration). A Faculty Leader acts always on behalf of its students, builds trust, provides them with the most fulfilling and challenging Holistic, Meaningful and Harmonious educational experience. All of his/her decisions are guided by the underlined principle of Innovation together with continuous learning that enhances the educational experience of every student. Faculty development and growth must be the responsibility and authority of faculty. Provide all necessary support (financial, administrative or structural) so faculty can create a professional learning community to enhance their learning by sharing best practices, experimenting with new learning techniques, strategies and philosophy and integrating new methodologies into classroom practices with the primary goal of improving student learning. Faculty empowered to develop appropriate assessment tools for classroom learning. Establish a framework to encourage faculty participation in leadership developing by distributing authority in small or large groups (department or division). A teacher is a professional with appropriate skills to engage students in the learning process. A leader teacher is an innovative leader who inspires students to become significant and is defined as “someone” who can change the environment he/she lives together with its people in a positive way, with his/her actions and not only words. A leader teacher always focuses on what is the best for his/her students, within but also outside of the school borders. The teacher leader has all the dimensions of a leader (know thyself, principles and values, personal and professional goals in life aligned with adopted principles and values and ethics). We empower faculty by preparing them to become accountable for their actions and then provide them with the authority to make decisions for themselves and their students; decisions regarding learning, development and growth, assessing performance and rewarding hard work.
I Di fre nclu gi e I d ta H es lA TA cc ll es s
Be a global thinker. Every day.
With the International Herald Tribune and the Kathimerini English Edition you get an insightful coverage of both global and regional politics, business and culture, helping you better understand the key issues and trends shaping the world – and the region. Enjoy home delivery and save up to 65% plus you'll receive a free gift when you order a special student/teacher subscription.
Subscribe today, call
210 480 8222
“Engaging Minds Serving the World”
Stefanos Gialamas, Ph.D. President The American Community Schools of Athens
Dr. Stefanos Gialamas, ACS Athens President, spoke at the installation of the 9th President of the University of Mary Washington, Mr. Richard V. Hurley, on September 30th, 2011 in Fredericksburg, Virginia for an audience of 1,300 faculty, students, and invited guests. In July 2010, Mr. Richard V. Hurley officially became UMW’s ninth president. Inauguration speakers included Ms. Laura Fornash, State Secretary of Education, Mr. Karl Rove, Senior Adviser and Deputy Chief of staff to former President George W. Bush, and many other distinguished guests and government figures. Dr. Gialamas and President Hurley are both members of the Board of the American Association of University Administrators and have served for many decades in senior academic and administrative positions at several higher education institutions. President Hurley also traveled to Greece in June, 2011 to deliver the commencement address at the American Community Schools of Athens (ACS Athens). Many ACS Athens graduates plan to attend U.S. universities this fall and several seniors are applying this year to UMW taking advantage of the articulation agreement between ACS Athens and UMW. UMW has partnered with ACS Athens to provide a smooth pathway for ACS Athens’ students to earn university credits and to be able to attend UMW, one of the leading public Liberal Arts universities in the U.S.
Installation Ceremony President Richard Hurley 9th President University of Mary Washington September 30, 2011 I would like to begin with a quote from His Holiness the Dalai Lama: “The reality today is that we are all interdependent and have to co-exist on this small planet”. Now more than ever, academic institutions play a leading role in preparing people to cope with
change and be productive members of an increasingly complex global society. International Education is gaining ground around the world in an effort to avoid the local cultural bias and prepare individuals for the challenges of globalization and the wise identification, selection, promotion and fostering of universal principles and values. Even for national academic institutions, it is imperative to develop their faculty and staff to study, internalize and carefully design and adopt a meaningful curriculum that offers an appropriate educational experience to their students. In particular, because today’s student population is so diverse and reflects complex societal structures and chal-
lenges, the opportunities and learning outcomes for students attending academic institutions are directly related to the educational experience they receive. This educational experience must be a comprehensive learning experience based on their academic, physical, spiritual, ethical, and social engagement development. Furthermore, the ability to cope with change is essential in assimilating this experience and using it to make decisions on a personal and professional level. It is the holistic, meaningful and harmonious educational experience based on universal principles and values that embraces the concept of serving the family, the community, the nation and the world.
Holistic refers to the understanding and successful combination of academic, emotional, physical, intellectual and ethical components to ensure a healthy, balanced individual; an individual who can be principled and inspire others to do the same. Meaningful relates to the degree of congruence of educational goals and outcomes with students’ dreams, strengths, talents, and desires. In addition, meaningfulness ensures correspondence between one’s principles and values, and one’s personal and professional life goals. Harmonious is the designation given to motion of synchrony and agreement among the various and often competitive dimensions of humanity. In other words, intelligence, intellect and competencies must be harmoniously integrated with empathy, decisionmaking, and social engagement. In order to accomplish the above, we need a new type of academic leadership: Innovative Leadership, enhanced with ethos as defined by the ancient Greeks. This leadership is defined as “the continuous act of effectively engaging all members of the academic institution, and utilizing their differences, their authentic energies, creative ideas, and diverse qualities for the benefit of its students, its faculty, the academic institution, the community and the world”. To develop and foster such an institutional culture, we need new types of leaders; leaders who are driven by ideas and a very strong commitment to civic service and social engagement. In our context, service is de-
fined as providing a benefit to a person or community without expecting a reward of recognition. These leaders should have four distinct leadership dimensions: The “inter-personal dimension” includes inspiring others to strive for excellence and reach their maximum potential, guiding and motivating exceptional performance by being the example for inspiration and instilling confidence in advance for success. The “setting standards” dimension includes establishing standards for good conduct and serving as a model for meeting these standards, being laureates for truth and beauty, and modeling integrity. The “international perspective” dimension includes understanding, embracing and adopting well-defined universal principles and values together with a continuous effort to recognize, comprehend and realize global conditions, threats and opportunities. The “Social Commitment” dimension includes the betterment of a situation or the improvement of a person’s life. It becomes a way of life for the leader as he develops a positive mindset toward improving as many as possible aspects of society. The leader moves toward a deep feeling of commitment and responsibility to improve conditions in his institution, community, and the world. Such leaders are guided by the desire of “serving students, faculty, the institution, the community and the world”.
Being a leader of an international institution based in Athens, Greece, I experience, every moment, every day and every month, the results of the absence of innovative leaders with ethos and devotion to serving the country. I strongly believe that leadership without the goal of serving others is similar to motherhood without a child. An individual who exhibits all the characteristics of a servant leader with ethos is President Hurley. He began his service to the university (UMW) and the community in 2000 as Vice President and since April 2010, serves as its 9th President. His record of accomplishments is long and rich. One of his accomplishments is impressive not only for its quantitative merit, but for its qualitative importance. President Hurley was able to increase the university’s reserves to the many millions it is today for the benefit of its students. However, what biographies and CVs do not reflect are the ethos, kindness and wisdom of an individual. I had the distinct privilege and honor of meeting President Hurley 16 years ago, as I was beginning my administrative career as a Dean. Since then, I have seen him in action within his institution and outside of it. He is a tough but tender leader, a leader with professionalism and compassion. I am very proud to be his colleague, but more importantly to be able to call him a friend. When the Board of Visitors of the University of Mary Washington selected Richard Hurley as the 9th president of the institution, they selected the best leader to lead the university through these challenging times for the nation and the world.
ACS Athens Student Receives Certificate for Outstanding Writer Achievement
Hannah Achorn, an 11th grade student at the American Community Schools of Athens (ACS Athens), has been recognized as an outstanding student writer by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), a professional association of educators based in the U.S. Hannah was nominated by the English Department of ACS Athens to participate in the NCTE’s annual writing competition for Juniors who attend American schools in the U.S. and abroad. This year, more than 1600 Juniors were nominated by their respective schools to participate in the competition. Of these, 520 students were selected as superior writers by a team of judges made up of high school and college English teachers. Results were announced in September, 2011. Assessment of each student’s writing was based on the student’s samples of his or her own best prose or verse and on an impromptu piece written under supervision. The NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing were established in 1957 to encourage student writers and to give public recognition to those who excel. More information at: http://www.ncte.org/.
ACS Athens Parent Receives Prestigious Award
The ACS Athens family boasts a prestigious award for one of its members! ACS Athens parent A. E. Stallings is a 2011 MacArthur Award Fellow of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. A. E. Stallings is a poet and translator mining the classical world and traditional poetic techniques to craft works that evoke startling insights about contemporary life. In both her original poetry and translations, Stallings exhibits a mastery of highly structured forms (such as sonnets, couplets, quatrains, and sapphics) and consummate skill in creating new combinations of meter, rhyme, and syntax into distinctive, emotionally compelling verse. The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria
for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work. The MacArthur Fellows Program is intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations. In keeping with this purpose, the Foundation awards fellowships directly to individuals rather than through institutions. Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, with or without institutional affiliations. They may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers. For more information, please visit the Foundation's page, www.macfound.org
Commended Students in the 2012 National Merit ® Scholarship Program
Arête Award Winners: 2010-2011
The ACS Arête Award for Civic Responsibility, launched by the Social Studies department in 2008-2009, pays tribute to members of the ACS community for embodying the spirit of arête and civic responsibility; demonstrating extraordinary initiative to serve others; striving socially and ethically as healthy, responsible members of the community; modeling service at ACS and/or in the local community; and inspiring others to become involved. In turn, it is hoped that this recognition will inspire others to rise up and become more involved in their community. To receive the award, a person must be nominated by a student, teacher, or community member and a special committee reviews these nominations and decides on the finalists. This year, we received a large number of nominations for all categories of the award. Let us celebrate the following 2010-2011 winners:
by Rannelle McCoy, Coordinator, Social Studies
This year’s recipient of the Arête award is the initiator of the Village Project,* Ellen Vriniotis, an Academy faculty member and ACS alumna. The Village Project was launched to help victims of the major forest fires that ravaged Greece in the summer of 2007. This project focuses on the village Lepreo, in Zacharo, in the prefecture of Ilia, Peloponnese. This project started in 2007 and is on-going, assisting people who were killed or injured in the fires and their families. Ms. Vriniotis was given the award, as initiator, because she is the life-blood of this project and in her free time visits Zacharo and counsels residents. She is the “go-to” person for learning the latest progress in Zacharo and in finding ways to involve more people in the project. Her passion for the region has stimulated our students and colleagues into action and a shift in consciousness. Some students have experienced a realization of just how privileged their own lives are and why it is important to give to others. Her vision has led the ACS community to provide financial support to this community in the form of renovating the local school house in Lepreo and creating a Youth Center that will include a Computer lab, Library, Museum, and various sports facilities. The Village Project has actively involved students of various levels at ACS, who in turn have reforested regions of the Kaiafa and Samiko burnt forests, met with fire officials, the mayor and Krestena Environmental Educational Center, and visited local school children. These visits with local school children have resulted in ACS students providing emotional and practical support to its students and Ms. Vriniotis has used her own background in psychology to support them. ACS students have also helped raise awareness in fire
Category: ACS Athens Employee
prevention and response measures. Finally, Ms. Vriniotis has encouraged her students to make Christmas ornaments and other items to sell, in order to raise money for the Village Project. Students from Grades 9 to 11 visit Zacharo each year as part of the Project. The Areté award was presented to Ms. Vriniotis, in front of her peers, at the end of the 2010-2011 school year, in the theater of the Arts Center. She received a standing ovation and very humbly accepted her award, content to give credit to the many others who work with her on this impressive and important project.
* see page 27 for the latest update on the Village Project’s progress.
The 2010-2011 Academy recipient of the Areté award is Alexandra Panagiotou, currently a senior in high school, for her two-year long volunteer work at a Veterinarian’s Clinic in Halandri from September 2009 through the end of the 2011 school year. What makes her work special is that Alexandra approached a local veterinarian, offered her services voluntarily, and even created her own position at the clinic. This was a first for the veterinarian, who wrote in his nomination form of Alexandra, “I have never had a request by a young high school student to help out and learn in this manner”. Alexandra served others in this position by assisting the veterinarian and his assistant in treating the animals, speaking with pet-owners, and translating directions on the labels of the medications into English when requested. The veterinarian and his partner hold Alexandra in such high esteem for her hard work, passion for animals, and commitment, and also wrote of Alexandra, “We are impressed by her compassion and drive. She is a wonderful person, who with great ease and a pleasant demeanor, brought great calm to the animals and their owners. She is an asset to our clinic, the community of Halandri, and surrounding areas that it serves”. Alexandra’s love for animals also led her to volunteer weekly at a horse stable, working with children with special needs during their horse-riding therapy. Alexandra’s modesty shone brightly on the theater stage when she was presented the award and given the opportunity to speak before her classmates. She relayed her passion to her classmates and received their cheers of approval.
Middle School Student
The Middle School recipient of the Arête Award is current eighth grader, Celeste Hollingworth, for her project “The Day in a Life of a Dog”. This activity was initiated in March 2011 under the mentorship of First Grade teacher Christina Birbil, and continued to the end of the 2011 school year. This project required Celeste to visit the Nea Filadelphia Animal Shelter to take photographs of dogs to raise
awareness of each dog’s need for a home. She put the photographs together and created a presentation, which she presented to Elementary School students. Celeste also enlisted the help of the fifth graders, who helped raise money and gather items for the shelter to support the animals there. Through this project, she managed to even motivate her two younger siblings, Anna and Griffin, into getting involved at the shelter every Saturday in walking the dogs and delivering food items for them. Anyone who knows Celeste knows that she is very passionate about the welfare of animals and her fellow human beings. When Celeste was given the
Category: ACS Athens Community Member
The Arête Award at this level was awarded to ACS alumna Naomi Trego, who painted murals at two different hospitals in the African countries of Niger and Ethiopia. She did this as a volunteer for the non-governmental organization, CURE International. Naomi currently lives in Washington State, in the United States and thus was unable to be presented this award in person. Instead, she was informed via email. A public announcement of her win was made at an ACS alumni meeting in the spring of 2011, before the Alumni council. Naomi agreed to an interview, via email, which is included below: RM: What is your current occupation? NT: I just graduated with my Bachelors of Arts in Studio Arts from Seattle Pacific University. I hope to eventually pursue a Masters of Fine Arts in Community Arts. Arête Award in front of her Middle School peers, teachers, and Ms. Birbil in June 2011, she was deeply honored. She had expressed interest in sharing a PowerPoint presentation to the Middle School that showcased her project and the progress she had made. Her passion and love for the dogs came alive on stage through her PowerPoint - her classmates were moved by her words and emotions, and gave her a round of applause and standing ovation at the end of her speech. RM: How many years did you go to ACS Athens and for which grades? NT: From 2000-2005, 7th grade through 11th grade. [I] graduated high school from the American School Foundation in Mexico City in 2006. RM: What was the nature of the volunteer project in Ethiopia and Niger? What role did you play? What is the name of the organization that you volunteered with? How did you decide to get involved with this organization? What motivated you to get involved? NT: I graduated from high school in 2006 and went to Seattle for college. After my first year of college I decided to take a gap year since I had no idea what I wanted to study. I moved to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where my family had recently moved for my father’s job. While there I spent my time volunteering with various NGOs (non-governmental organizations). Through a friend I heard about a new children’s hospital being built and was offered the opportunity to paint murals in the new buildings. The hospital is just one of the many built by Cure International, an organization that builds and staffs hospitals in the developing world to treat children with physical disabilities and deformities. Over four months I brainstormed, sketched, and painted murals throughout the hospital. I tried to make the murals as site-specific and relevant as possible. In the ICU where children would be spending much time on their backs I converted pillars and pipes into trees with branches spreading across the ceiling. In the clinic waiting room which would be filled with restless children I painted large flowers with the letters of the Amharic alphabet on the petals. In the physical therapy room I painted the silhouettes of children stretching and playing. In the corridor to the
Category: Elementary School
The recipient of the Arête award for an Elementary School activity was awarded to students in first, second, third, fourth and fifth grade, for their work with the Nea Filadelphia Animal Shelter. In mid-October 2010, the annual Wag-a-thon was held by the shelter on a Saturday. Elementary teachers Christina Birbil and Marla Coklas, led students in volunteering for the event and putting forward the message, “Adopt, Don’t Shop” and “Stray dogs are in need of love and care.” Students raised 500 euros to support the shelter and walked the dogs as service. Their actions have also helped some dogs get adopted. This project has been on-going for the past few years and has grown in participation across elementary grade levels. Later in the year, the fifth graders joined our other Arête Award honoree, Celeste Hollingsworth, in her endeavor to raise awareness and raise money for the shelter. The Elementary School students were informed of their award at the beginning of Field Day. Cheers rang out in the parking lot where students were gathered, in their house colors, and their principal, Ms. Dina Pappas, beamed with pride.
surgery theatres I painted a parade of playful animals to accompany the children. I had a blast. It was my first time painting on that large of a scale and fell in love with murals. Previously I had often felt like art was a frivolous thing to do in light of all the world’s problems, especially all of the poverty I saw in Ethiopia. The experience of painting murals was one of the first times I felt my gift of art was not trivial, but rather had an important place in the world. Art can transform a boring wall, a sterile environment, and a nerve-racking place like a hospital into a colorful, happy, and calming place of healing. After one year of volunteering I returned to college with more direction in my life. Due to the powerful mural experience I felt justified in pursuing art. Back in college, remembering what transformative power art can have, I felt filled with purpose and drive in my art classes. During the summer between my junior and senior years of college I was asked by Cure International to paint their new hospital in Niamey, Niger. I happily spent six weeks and many long hot days painting six areas of the hospital. There were plenty of adventures along the way—trying to paint quickly in high heat before the paint dried, working by head lamp during power outages, using gasoline when no paint thinner was available and hoping paint dried before a dust storm comes, to mention a few. I pay tribute to the farming culture, I painted landscape scene of Nigeriens working in the fields and on the river to decorate the cafeteria area. The windows and door frames of the play area became elephants, ostriches, camels, and more. And in the ward where the nurses, families, and Spiritual Director of the hospital would care for the children in recovery, I made batik-style paintings of stories found in both the Bible and Quran to entertain the children. RM: Do you have any advice for ACS students, faculty, and community members about getting more involved in their community? NT: Be open to trying new things. I had never before painted murals or painted large-scale, but I took a risk and learned a lot on the way. Your skills can help others. I had often thought of art as something self-serving or as just a hobby, but volunteering helped me see the way my interests can serve others. It is an amazing feeling to wake up and go to sleep everyday smiling because you are doing what you love and helping others. Go with your gut. When I knew school was not right for me at the time, I went with my
gut and pursued my own learning experiences and learned so much in the process. Involve others. When I was in Ethiopia, I lead a group of IB students from the International Community School of Addis Ababa to paint a mural for the children’s play area at the hospital. In one day, six of us created a two by three meter mural and had a lot of fun along the way. RM: Did your education and experiences at ACS as a student help prepare you for this volunteer experience? If so, explain. What do you think of the Arête award and how do you feel being chosen as this year’s recipient? NT: I feel extremely honored to have been chosen for the Arête award. ACS is a place that is filled with creativity, a spirit of service, and concern for global issues. I remember my time at ACS being encouraged in my education and being pushed to fulfill my potential. I remember my Humanities class (especially the Italy field trip) and my IB Visual Arts class with great fondness; those classes equipped me with knowledge and training that I still use regularly. RM: Any future plans involving community service? NT: For the summer I will be working for United States Agency for International Development in Pretoria, South Africa visiting USAID project sites and listening to the stories of development. I will be returning to Seattle in the fall and hoping to volunteer to continue to gain experience in community arts and art therapy. I am currently looking for international opportunities to teach art or work in community development. RM: Thank you very much for the interview Naomi! Links: • Interested in learning more about Cure International? Visit their website: http://cure.org/ • Interested in seeing Naomi’s work on the hospital murals? Check out her website: http://cargocollective.com/naomitrego
Note: Nominations for the 2011-2012 school year will start in March 2012. Stay tuned to the ACS website for the announcement and nomination form.
The Department of Student Services is very committed to the ACS Athens philosophy of providing a Holistic, Meaningful and Harmonious education for students. This means offering a variety of opportunities to experience learning on many levels beyond academics. The Student Services team works diligently to provide a place of belonging, a place where it is safe to express fears, concerns and learn skills to tackle any number of issues arising for students. Experienced staff skillfully bridge the past, present and future to guide students to make wise choices, reach goals, and progress through each grade level while maintaining a balance academically, socially and emotionally. Furthermore, the community service opportunities available to students go a long way towards building friendships, developing empathy and providing care for fellow human beings, animals and the environment. Some examples of the programs students are involved in are seen in the articles that follow. There is no doubt that counselors, mentors, teachers and students put heart and soul into their activities, making sure that all involved come out winners.
by Peggy Pelonis Director of Student Services
Preparing Students for Best-Fit Colleges
The 12th grade can be a daunting year for any teenage student. Faced with the prospect of life beyond high school, seniors have the added pressure of the, dreadful for many, college application process. However, while this process takes full effect in the last year of high school, in reality it is a process that begins much earlier, from the 9th grade. Asking a teenager what career prospects they have or aspire to is like a roulette spin. It can change from one moment to another. The best way to gauge students’ academic strengths and personal interests is to start the process early; that is, to begin with an academic plan from the early high school years. Preparing our stu-
by Stelios Kalogridakis and Stacie La Grow, Academy Counselors
dents in their advisory classes in the 9th and 10th grade, we instill in them an idea of what lies beyond high school, serving as a catalyst come college searching time. Going over the four-year plan, in a sense, is similar to laying down the future academic tracks on the way to their college destination. Completing personality and career surveys, such as the ACT Discovery Program, taking standardized tests, the 9th grade MAP test, the PSAT, and the College Board SAT online courses, and attending university representatives’ visits are some of the important tools in getting our students ready and prepared for the college application process. There are many obstacles along the way. Balancing the academic workload with
the required application preparation, while also dispelling application myths and misconceptions, constitute the first semester of the 11th grade. The college search process is not simply looking at a ranking list, a college brochure, and browsing through a website. It is a long process between counselor and student, with parents and teachers being aware and supportive throughout the process. Here at Student Services our goal is to have a clear picture of every graduating senior; a picture that constitutes academic grades, standardized test scores, extra curricular activities, and personal interests, in order to rightly advise and perfect the college search process. We strive for students to have a small and reasonable number of colleges on their list that adequately represents the setting where they would truly succeed and be happy in during their college years. The students’ full involvement in this process helps them transition in later life, not just with academics, but also through developing their resiliency skills.
Freshman Connection Day
Helping Students' transition to High School
Ninth graders took to the hills last Friday for the annual Freshman Connection Day! A team of mountaineers from Trekking Hellas guided ninth graders through the foothills of Parnitha to the Tatoi Grounds where students spent the day engaging in teambuilding and collaborative activities. It was a wonderful opportunity for incoming freshmen to connect with new and returning students, as well as their teachers and counselors, easing their transition into high school and making their mark as the Freshman Class! Students gathered House points by orienteering through the forest to find landmarks with their compass, coordinating their team members to cross the finish line on gigantic skis, crossing a crocodile river with 2 planks of wood and three bins (thankfully, no crocodiles were sighted ☺) and ended the day with a tug-of-war. Congratulations to the Trojans for holding strong! This event is organized through the ninth grade Advisory class and part of a greater initiative by Student Services to smooth the student transition process into High School!
by Ellen Froustis-Vriniotis, IB Psychology Faculty
The Birth of a Tradition
by Christina Birbil First Grade Teacher
I have grown up living and communicating with animals since the day I was born. I grew up in eight different countries across Europe, Africa and Mexico, attending international schools. Our home pets included dogs, hamsters, fish and turtles. I was a shy child and found it hard to communicate with others; however, I was comfortable around people I knew and animals. There was something about animals, some sort of silence with which I could identify and empathize. While I had never had a pet in any of my classrooms, I couldn’t imagine living without one at home, even today. From the age of eleven I started rescuing animals from the streets of Mexico, either housing them in my own home or finding new homes and families for them. From
Greece alone I have rescued, kept, re-homed or transported, both locally and overseas, more than twenty canines and felines. I have never stopped. During my first teaching year I adopted a hamster for my 2nd grade class. I found her in a cage next to a garbage bin on the street. Pretty soon, my reputation as an animal lover grew and I found myself at the forefront of all kinds of rescue missions throughout the school! The current animal in-house residents of my 1st grade classroom here at ACS Athens include one hamster, one baby tortoise, two terrapins and a variety of snails rescued from a bunch of grapes! While saving animals was and still remains a very emotionally exhausting experience, it was always re-
warding. My students have become intricately involved in rescuing, caring for, and housing new strays over the years. As long as there are children in the world, there will always exist a need to find and implement methods that complement each other in order to assist in the child’s socio-emotional and cognitive development. The human-animal bond can have a direct influence on human relationships. Incorporating animals into the educational realm of a child in a classroom or social setting can play a crucial role in the child’s development and socialization. The benefits of the human-animal bond in young, school aged children can help increase positive self-esteem, help create a positive relationship with others, lower blood pressure, increase patience, competency, empathy, responsibility and sharing, as well as provide the child with someone to talk to. By introducing animals into the classroom, children can develop their humanity for those around them and awareness for the environment in which they live. It comes as no surprise that children are very eager to empathize with animals, abandoned or not. Experience has shown me that animals in the classroom provide children with the opportunity to exercise independence and autonomy when caring for the varied classroom pets, enabling them to communicate their emotions more directly, and are an invaluable teaching tool from social emotional development through to cognitive development. As we know, young children learn best when actively engaged, so my passions and interests soon led me to branch out towards non-profit organizations here in Athens to provide a concrete, external example of
the goodness of others and how people turn their passions outward in order to help others in need. Our civic responsibility can only be accomplished by putting passion into action. In May 2008, I arranged for ACS Athens to host team members and their therapy dogs from SAPT Hellas (Stray Action – Pet Therapy Hellas, a Non Profit Organization) to come talk to our 37 first graders and Optimal Match (now known as Optimal Learning) students from 2nd- 5th grade. Their “Informative Campaign” project provided our students with information on the plight of strays in Greece, showed them the right behavior to exhibit towards dogs (stray or owned) and allowed for a hands-on “meet and greet” with the eight therapy dogs and their handlers. Prior to their visit, I organized an action component for our entire elementary school in which we raised over 60 bags of donated quality dog food. SAPT Hellas was overjoyed by the generosity our students exhibited. Shortly after the event, I introduced myself to Ms. Marla Coklas, a colleague on campus who shared my beliefs about animals. She introduced me to the local animal welfare shelter in Nea Filadelphia (a very active/proactive shelter) and we teamed together to create cross-campus awareness for the plight of strays in Greece. Over the years we have incorporated the ACS tradition of the “Five days of Giving” to include raising donations and funds to help support the Friends of Animals Shelter in Nea Filadelphia. Now, in retrospect, October 2009 saw the Birth of a Tradition, when Friends of Animals Nea Filadelphia announced their First Annual Wag-A-Thon (a campaign to raise awareness for the shelter and to find forever homes for the dogs and cats of the shelter). With the organized forces of our PTO, Ms. Coklas
organizing the Academy students and me at the helm of the Elementary School, our combined efforts generated a whopping €1196,50. At the event, 15 Elementary School students (JK-5) and their families, teachers and Academy Students were proud to be the representatives of such a cause as a united Team ACS Athens. During that year, the birth of another tradition here at ACS Athens recognized the First Grade team for their Civic Responsibility with the prestigious Arête Award. Our activism awareness campaign was equally successful during the Second Annual Wag-A-Thon. This year marks the Third Annual Wag-A-Thon and our very own eighth grader, Celeste Hollingsworth (both volunteer and proud owner of a Friends of Animals shelter dog) was brought in to showcase her PowerPoint presentation on the Friends of Animal Shelter in Nea Filadelphia in order to educate and inspire all teachers in the Elementary School and kick-off our fundraising campaign. The Elementary School alone raised close to €750 worth of donations including one from a previous ACS Athens family who have relocated to Singapore! With 12 Elementary School students (K-5 plus three students from sixth & eighth grade) and their families, as well as three faculty members (Ms. Coklas, Ms. Koutsioukis and myself) this year earned definite ap-paws and a giant “paws” for success. How do we know we are successfully raising civic awareness amongst our students and a compassion for all members of our society and hence our world? The student reflections say it all.
“I went to the Wag-A-Thon!! I was happy to help the stray dogs. I raised money for the shelter.” (1st grader) “I was petting the dogs. I was happy to be there but at the same time very sorry for these abandoned dogs. I can help by giving money, but in the future we will try to adopt a dog.” (1st grader) “I met some of my friends from my school outside the dog shelter at the park with our dogs or some shelter dogs to be adopted. I felt very happy because we love dogs and we care about stray dogs that need to find a good home. I bought some things because the shelter needs some money to take care of the dogs.” (2nd grader) “I walked Emma. I felt good. I helped by walking the dogs.” (2nd grader) “I pet the dogs. I feel that I am a better person. I fed the dogs.” (4th grader) “We were walking a really cute and fuzzy dog named Patrick. I felt really happy about going there and looking at all the dogs. I helped by walking Patrick.” (5th grader)
In 900 B.C. our Greek ancestor, Homer, speaks of how Asclepius, the Greek God of Healing, used his divine healing powers to cure people through the lick of a sacred dog. I am confident that our efforts to unleash an innate awareness for all the inhabitants of our world and develop a sense of empowerment to be able to step forward and do something about injustice are already put into practice here at ACS Athens. I am proud to be part of this community and will continue to lead through example for the generations of our future.
“The human animal bond can have a direct influence in human relationships.” (Gandhi)
Interview with Kiki
Celeste: How did you get involved with the animal shelter? Kiki: Actually, I and a few others created the shelter. We had to have a place to keep the strays that needed treatment or were recovering from operations and the Municipality gave us two cages of the abandoned zoo in the park. That was seven years ago. We moved to where we now are almost four years ago, as the needs seemed to increase. Celeste: How did you manage to get the old zoo as the location site for your shelter? Kiki: We asked for it from the Municipality and they gave us permission. Celeste: How long have you been volunteering? Kiki: The organization was created in March 2004 and I was among those who created it. Celeste: What do you need the most for running the shelter (other than volunteers)? Kiki: We definitely need money for running the shelter. We get no help from the Municipality. Thanks to virtual adoptions we manage to buy the food needed. We have to pay for the rest (medicines, vets, vaccines, anti-flees and –ticks collars and spot on, etc) from the money we raise from our bazaars. It’s not enough. We already owe more than 10,000 Euros to the vets. So, whatever one can bring (medicine, stuff for vermifugation and, of course, money) is very welcome. (See our site for more details). Celeste: What are your greatest challenges in adopting out dogs? Kiki: We have a questionnaire that has to be answered by those who come for adoptions. The main questions are: • How many hours will the dog be alone at home? • Where is the dog going to be kept? • Does every member of the family agree in having a dog? • Does the owner of the house (in case they rent) agree with it? • What they are going to do with the dog during summer vacations? • What are they going to do with the dog if life changes? (This is a question for young people. For example, a young man may have to serve as a soldier, a young lady may get pregnant) Celeste: How to you obtain most of your dogs? Kiki: They are found by people who call us or they are brought/abandoned in the shelter. Celeste: How do the volunteers who walk dogs help the shelter?
by Celeste Hollingsworth, Student
Kiki: They help the dogs exercise, get socialized, become friendly with people (some of them are very scared and unconfident) and know how to walk with a leash. Celeste: How are some ways, other than adopting, that people can help at the shelter? Kiki: • Dog walking or putting fresh water in the bowls, especially in the summer. • Becoming virtual parents • Working on fundraising events and ideas • Spreading the idea of adopting or helping the shelter in any way.
Kiki and Celeste
Christina Birbil: "Celeste Hollingsworth was a student I mentored last year and through our work she became heavily involved in volunteering at the Friends of Animals Shelter in Nea Filadelphia. This is her interview with Kiki, one of the pioneers of the shelter"
A philosophy of life becomes a Tradition
by Marla Coklas, 5th Grade Teacher
When I moved to Athens permanently four years ago, I witnessed first-hand the animal welfare issue that our city faced. It literally broke my heart to find dogs and cats living off the streets, having to fend for their food from the garbage dumpsters or “begging” for scraps from local restaurants or tourists. Worse yet, hearing the stories of why and how some members of the Athens community “dispose” of their dogs and cats once they are “tired” of them or cannot care for them any longer. Being an active community member for animal welfare back in Chicago, where I was raised, I felt the need to act here. This is where it all began. Through these club meetings, donation drives, and trips to the shelter to volunteer with the students, I have discovered the significant benefits of volunteering at an animal shelter for children/young adults and the impact that it can have on their lives. I believe, children who volunteer with animals will learn compassion, hopefully becoming better stewards to encourage others to be better pet owners, thus reducing the flood of pets sent to shelters or left on the streets. Volunteering is, by virtue, a selfless act. Even if the child’s motivation is low or “selfish” to begin with (they want to get a pet), it often becomes a selfless act as they learn that the animal’s mental, or physical, wellbeing is in their hands. If you teach a child to be compassionate to animals, you help pave the way for a brighter future for all living beings. Animals benefit because the next generation has learned to treat them with respect and care, thereby decreasing instances of animal cruelty. Children benefit because learning about compassion and empathy early on can build moral character, reduce violence, and nurture a sense of empowerment, responsibility, and inspiration. Our society profits when its members are more caring towards each other and the animals that live among us.
Having searched the Internet for an animal shelter where I could volunteer my time and donate some money, I stumbled upon the Filozoiki (Friends of Animals) in Nea Filadelfia. After reading its mission statement, I was sure that this was the place for Along with the apparent benefits that volunteering brings to the people, animals, me. I visited the shelter and started volunteering regularly every Sunday afternoon and organizations that are helped, it also brings a number of benefits to children: (late summer of 2008). Some months passed, and the thought occurred to me, “I • Children who see their parents or other adults volunteering learn the value of should get the students involved at ACS.” I gathered some students in my office that giving back to their community and how each of us can make the world a better I knew shared the same passion as I did, and we discussed the possibilities of incorplace, starting with the communities in which we live. porating our traditional “5 Days of Giving” in November with the donating of food, • Children and adolescents gain self-esteem and develop confidence with a sense medicines, or money for the shelter. It came to fruition, and it was a major success. of pride as they discover that what they do can make a difference. Simply put, There began the birth of a tradition. Later, I joined forces with Christina Birbil in the they see the fruits of their labor. Elementary School, formed an all-campus campaign for the donations, invited the spokesperson for the shelter to Children can also gain priceless life skills and experiences come and speak to the children about shelter animals, and by making and keeping commitments, including how to “Not to hurt the creatures created a “Team ACS” for the annual Wag-a-Thons (an be on time and complete assignments. They learn to event that the shelter holds to raise community awareness work as a team and possibly take on leadership roles. brethren is our first duty and encourage possible adoptions). We also sponsored a More importantly, they take ownership and have a sense to them, but to stop there table for the shelter at the ACS Athens Christmas Bazaar of control over what happens in their lives and comand Spring Fair. The following school year I submitted a munities. is not enough. We have a proposal to the Student Services Office for a “Friends of Animals” club of which I would be the coordinator. This My hope is to continue this tradition at ACS, Athens. In higher mission -to be of was also a huge success. The students who were involved the times we live in, our children are faced with the imservice to them wherever had such a dedicated passion to this cause that it simply mense challenge to make whole again what we, as adults, made me stop and observe in amazement how little I had have broken. We have handed over a tremendous rethey require it.” to direct our meetings and/or generate ideas for donation sponsibility, without ever asking their permission. The drives. I felt honored to be among these young adults taking least we can do is give them the tools and education so Saint Francis of Assisi leadership initiatives and celebrating their efforts for taking they can be the future leaders of tomorrow, promoting their ideas and putting them into action. the well-being of our planet and all its living creatures.
The Village Project: Engaging Students to Serve the Rural Community
by Ellen Froustis-Vriniotis, IB Psychology Faculty
Providing students with opportunities for personal growth, awareness, responsibility, empathy and compassion for others is perhaps one of the most important goals of education—to prepare young people for life. Experiential learning is one of the most powerful teaching tools that enables students to discover the real world of beauty, challenge and uncultivated possibility. The ACS Athens Village Project, in its fourth year of commitment, continues to engage, provoke, inspire and broaden the scope and potential of ACS Athens students to serve the rural community of Lepreo, Ileia. It was four years ago in 2007 that the first group of ACS Athens tenth graders peered out of their bus window, solemnly, to capture the endless expanse of burnt and desolate forest and agricultural land; Zacharo, Ileia had just experienced the fourth largest fire in the world. With hesitation, the owners of the local Alkionis Hotel accepted to book 36 students for a weekend service retreat. They were still mourning the loss of their mother and sister, two of the 65 people that perished in the fires. During our reforestation of the Samiko area, local forest rangers described the vivid images of scorched animals, their fear of not surviving while battling the flames, of the mother and her four children who were found huddled together, of the deputy mayor who didn’t survive his injuries, of the future of the people of Zacharo, who lost 98% of the olive tree industry. This was not your usual 80 minute planned lesson. With humbleness and compassion, our tenth graders proceeded to the village of Lepreo to meet the children who had survived this ecological catastrophe. We found a two-room schoolhouse where all children from grades 1-6 attended. There was no heat and no bathrooms to name a few of its obvious deficits. Some ACS students taught the Lepreo kids how to test the safety of their drinking water, others visited a woman whose house burned down and donated more than 200 olive trees to be replanted. However, our biggest contribution was our commitment to see the school improve its facilities so that we could establish a technology center, where the local children and residents could learn computer skills. Since that very first journey, ACS students visit nearly twice a year and have engaged in a number of projects with the local youth, in an effort to raise awareness for the prevention of fires and preservation of the forests. They’ve planted nearly 600 trees in Zacharo (more than 1000 in the province of Ileia!) and have raised funds for the purchase of seven computer stations. The school has been renovated and this year; the computer center will operate during after- school hours for the first time. The children have been moved to the school in the larger town of Zacharo. With the collaboration of ACS Athens, the Lepreo Elementary school will now become a Youth Center to house the computer center, a folk museum and new playground facilities for the children. This transformation has taken time, persistence, collaboration, and a common vision for providing young people with opportunities to discover their potential. This year, perhaps the greatest transformation has been the children. As the older students have gone on to graduate high school, the elementary students that we first met are now ninth and tenth graders. This month, ninth graders visited and planted 100 more trees in the village and collaborated on projects aimed at identifying the “values” and “assets” young people need for optimal growth. The one lesson we didn’t expect was the one aimed at breaking down “stereotypes.” As the local students had now grown from children to adolescents, they had also grown more self-conscious about our role
and intentions. Were we there to “help and save the poor children” of the village or did we genuinely want to establish mutual friendships through a collaborative project? Our students had to reevaluate their stereotypes of the “underprivileged” community. The local kids had to reexamine their assumptions about the “privileged” kids from the private international school in Athens. Our “on-the-spot” counseling and debriefing sessions proved necessary to dissolve the stereotypes. Our mutual reforestation project and beach clean-up —working on neutral, common goals--proved to be the adhesion to their newly defined relationship. Perhaps the most amazing development since our recent trip has been the continued communication between the students and local youth through social networking, no less! The students from both schools are now creating their own plans to visit each other and maintain contact until our next visit—an encouraging sign that they can take this project to the next level and take ownership of it. Through books, we gain knowledge; through action, we expand the human capacity for growth and positive change. Here are some of the insights these young engaging minds have explored since the beginning of the project: Gianna Argitakos (2007) – The conversations we had that night at the hotel amongst ourselves were completely different from the night before; they were filled with substance and meaning, and questioning what we have and how lucky we were. What if your whole world just burnt down and you were left with nothing? This was such a humbling experience.
Natalia Botonakis (2008) – What made an impression on me was how we all changed from the experience, sharing our knowledge, care, and good fortune with kids who had far less opportunities in life. This experience taught me that we must use every gift we have to help ourselves and others. Orestes Adam (2010) – I believe it was an amazing experience for everyone on the trip to care for these people, most of them younger than we are, just because we could. It was also an empowering experience for the kids, giving them a voice in their community, because sometimes adults forget that kids DO have a voice and they, too, can contribute. Phillipos Minaretzis (2011) – This visit left a unique experience in my life, the most shocking being that no one was as fortunate as I. I met children whose path of life was affected by this tragic event and whose life plans have fully changed. Theodoris Maragos; Lepreo Student (2011) – We can change anything in our society; but we need equality, teamwork and true democracy. Teachers that have served The Village Project: Dionysia Balaskas, Carrie Brinkman, Marca Daley, Georgia Exintavelonis, Maria Falidas, Jakob House, Sana Kassem, Athina Mitsopoulou, Katerina Pisanias, Helen Sarantis, Kiki Spiliot, Julia Tokatlidou, Ellen Vriniotis
The Student Life and Wellness Program Serving the ACS Athens Student
by Helen Liakos, Counseling Psychologist Zaharo Hilentzaris, Assistant, Student Life and Wellness Program
The ACS Student Life and Wellness Program has a two year history which focuses on conveying the information to students that is pertinent to leading a healthy, holistic life enriched with quality. In this light, the program has the direct goal of providing a student service that shares credit with the general vision of our school to provide a harmonious and meaningful education. The choice of permitting this program to slowly evolve, rather than to begin with a set program, was to allow all constituencies to voice an opinion on the needs of our students in “learning life strategies,” which are equally important to academics. Prevention and positive thinking kindles well-being within and without the perimeter of a school. Every year, this being the third, we add programs to all grade levels which seek to better inform the students, parents and teachers of our scope as an institution of learning. The Child Study Team (CST), under the direction of each individual ACS school administrator, addresses critical issues affecting individual students. With careful and individualized planning, the CST will provide solutions to the many decisions students must make through their Elementary, Middle and High school years. The OLP Program is instrumental in collecting and promulgating this information. Emotional and social literacy is the main objective of this program, which has included the following connections in the past: CST, Activities Program, Owl Buddy Program, Buddy System, Freshman Connection, Salutation Program, Survival Kit, Stress Management, Parenting and Internet Safety Program. One addition this year is the Peer Mediators Middle School program. Its basis revolves around the understanding that students communicate more openly with each other rather than with adults in the pre adolescent and adolescent periods of their
lives. The Middle School Counselor will be training interested students in the art of facilitating fellow peers with the challenges they face, whether academic, social or emotional. Most importantly, they will be able to offer the kind of understanding only an adolescent can fully appreciate. In addition, it is instrumental to assist students from other school systems to adapt through a healthy and comfortable transition into ACS. Moreover, it is important to understand the differences that exist between the school systems, which our Program of Studies provides the basis for; however, the students will also need an outlet to express their uncertainties, anxieties, fears and generally their emotions about their new environment. The Salutation Program provides this service through a harmonious environment, which takes place during the individual students’ academic advisory. In February, an entire week is dedicated to educating
the students about wellness. Wellness week is dedicated to topics such as nutrition, sports, personal development, physical and emotional safety, resolution, inner strength, and purpose of life The Activities Program has flourished and provides a variety of topics for student growth and development. This year we offer the following, teacherled activities and clubs: Various Student Councils, National Honors Society, Literary Magazine, Cinema, Technology, History & Culture Through Languages, International, Science and Society, Math Literature, History & Civics Through Plots of Films, Forensics (Impromptu, Debate, Duet Acting, Oral Interpretation, Group Discussion, Oratory), Model United Nations, UNESCO, Yearbook, Blue & Gold News, Recycling, Media Production Lab, Photo Journalism, Desktop Publishing & Digital Video Production, Pep Squad, Friends of Animals, Drama, Environmental, Civic Responsibility, Chess, Board Games, Art and Peer Mediators. With over 35 interest groups, the goal is to promote wellness through activities that students have a natural interest in, enabling them to grow intellectually and emotionally. Our overall goal in the Student Life and Wellness Program is to provide students with the tools that will help build their self confidence and present them with the skills needed to handle the challenges that will inevitably present themselves throughout their academic years and beyond. The abilities they will develop through this process will assist them in their academic, social and emotional transitions. Through fortifying these skills, student will be able to successfully cope with the anxieties that can accompany the powerful fluctuations they are bound to encounter. As the Student Life and Wellness Program matures, we anticipate more student-led activities and involvement that will enrich our student’s lives in a meaningful way.
Students Serving Students: Positively Adjusting at ACS Athens
With today’s ever-changing and transient student population due to family relocations for work, economic hardships, political issues and stressors of every day life, the effect school has on children’s development allows us to critically, creatively and sensitively examine the environmental factors that contribute to children’s positive adjustment to school (Baker, Dilly, Auperlee & Patil, 2003). According to Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi (2000) the positive psychology model encourages individuals to develop by building strengths and shaping environments that support adjustment. It is the context in which individuals develop that plays a critical role in promoting their adaptation and adjustment to their environments (Masten & Coatsworth, 1998). Schools are important contexts for children’s development as the time spent in school influences their experiences (life and learning), self-perceptions and how one’s life progresses (Baker, Dilly, Auperlee & Patil, 2003). Children who develop positively have several specific characteristics in common: a) sufficient personal assets and competencies and b) effective nurturance and support from the social environment. It is these resources that protect the children from stress and dysfunction (Luthar, Cicchetti & Becker, 2000). Resilience (the process of positive adaptation in the face of significant stress or adversity), developmental assets (positive-relationships, opportunities, competencies, values, self-perceptions that children need to succeed), social-emotional learning (promotion of children’s social and emotional well-being) and subjective wellbeing (an individual’s experience of positive qualities of one’s life) models, are all approaches to understanding children’s positive adjustment in the school environment (Baker, Derrer, Davis, Dinklage-Travis, Linder & Nicholson, 2001). Nevertheless, it is essential to examine the number of ways in which positive adaptation has been conceptualized in the school setting. Some of these ways include: a) the school climate (Epstein & McPartland, 1976), b) classroom structures, goals and practices (Ames, 1992; Eccles et al., 1998), c) school organization and structure (Baker et al., 2001), d) student demographics, e) student academic ability, f) student mental health, family relations and g) peer relations (Doll, 1996). Doll (1996) suggested that children’s peers influence positive development and wellness and serve as a critical function for the comfort and support children’s’ experiences at school. Additionally, peer groups serve to socialize children, allowing children to adopt similar goals and attitudes as their peers. Wentzel (1994) found that children who felt their peers supported them adopted prosocial and
by Alessandra Sax-Lane, Elementary School Counselor
socially responsible goals within the classroom, such as assisting classmates in the school setting (Baker, Dilly, Auperlee & Patil, 2003). It is this sense of being connected, secure or feeling safe that is essential for students of all ages to progress emotionally, socially and academically. As ACS-Athens is an international school that embraces the American philosophy of education, we must not overlook the uniqueness of our school’s student population as we house over 65 different nationalities world-wide. Having this is in mind, it is critical to support all new students matriculating for the first time at ACS-Athens, in order to ensure a smooth transitional period into the new school environment. One way in which we actively support our returning students to be responsible citizens and/or serving others, is by taking part in the Owl-Buddy Program in the Elementary School. Returning students (our buddies) are assigned to an “Owl” (our new students) by the School Counselor, in order to assist them in adjusting to the new school environment by being a valued peer support system. The Owl Buddy Program’s mission is to assist new Elementary School students to transition smoothly into an international environment. Monthly meetings for grades 2-5 are held with the Owls (new students) and School Counselor. These meetings aim to monitor students’ progress in school and their degree of satisfaction with their buddies via a group discussion between the Counselor and all new students. The students are also given the opportunity to evaluate the program by giving instrumental feedback to the Counselor and by completing a questionnaire on the Owl-Buddy Program. Positive school experiences, socially,
Alessandra Sax-Lane and Jeff Kalas
emotionally and academically, in addition to stronger school performance are expected goals to be achieved by implementing the Owl Buddy Program. In closing, school practices that foster positive adjustment or holistic health (social, emotional, physical and cognitive balance): 1) enhance children’s meaningful connections to others in the school environment, 2) enhance children’s sense of competence as learners and 3) promote a sense of autonomy and self-direction that is associated with positive school attitudes and overall healthy functioning both in school and society (Baker, Dilly, Auperlee & Patil, 2003). References Ames, C. (1992). Classrooms: Goals structures and student motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84, 267-27. Baker, J.A., Dilly, J. (2003). The Developmental Context of School Satisfaction: Schools as Psychologically Healthy Environments. School Psychology Quarterly, 18, 206-221. Baker, J.A., Derrer, R., Davis, S., Dinklage-Travis, H., Linder, D., & Nicholson, M. (2001). The flip side of the coin: Understanding the school’s contribution to dropout. School Psychology Quarterly, 16, 406-427. Deal, T. E., Peterson, K. (1991). The principal’s role in shaping school culture. Washington: U.S. Department of Education.
Doll, B. (1996). Children without friends: Implications for practice and policy. School Psychology Review, 25, 165-183. Eccles, J.S., Wigfield, A., & Schiefele, U. (1998). Motivation to succeed. In W. Damon & N. Eisnberg. Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3: Social, emotional and personality development (5th ed.; pp. 1017-1095). New York: Wiley. Epstein, J.L., & McPartland, J.M. (1976). The concept and measurement of the quality of school life. American Educational Research Journal, 13, 15-30. Luthar, S.S., Cicchetti, D., & Becker, B. (2000). The construct of resilience: A critical evaluation and guidelines for future work. Child Development, 71, 543-562. Masten, A. S., & Coatsworth, J.D. (1998). The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments: Lessons from research on successful children. American Psychologist, 53, 205-220. Seligman, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive Psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5-14. Wentzel, K.R. (1994). Relations of social goal pursuit to social acceptance, classroom behavior and perceived social support. Journal of educational Psychology, 86, 173-182
by Jeff Kalas, Middle School Counselor
Each academic year brings many new student faces to the Middle School. This school year alone we have welcomed Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Peruvian, Israeli, BelgianHungarian, Russian, Greek and American learners to our halls. The transition to another country, culture and school can bring an uncharacteristically high amount of stress to a new Middle School student. Will my teachers be too strict? What if I can’t remember my locker combination? Will I make any friends? These questions can consume a student’s mind during the weeks surrounding the first days of school. Studies by the Journal of Educational Psychology (Wentzel, McNamara-Barry & Caldwell, 2004) recognize that feeling connected at the beginning of a school year proves vital for later social/emotional development. The study finds that reciprocal friendships established in the sixth grade show a positive influence on the adjustment of the same students even in the eighth grade, two years after the bond was created. The article “Friendships Ease Middle School Adjustment” by the American Psychological Association (Dittman, 2004) states that “middle school students with close friendships at the beginning of sixth grade are more social, helpful and cooperative than students who do not have reciprocated friendships.” The article states that “a single friend’s prosocial characteristics can predict a student’s prosocial behavior even years later.” The Middle School has established a New Student Buddy Program to help ease the stress levels of our inexperienced population. Specifically, returning ACS-Athens students who have demonstrated a high capacity for empathy and communication of school climate are asked to be buddies. The school counselor, teachers and administration all recommend student buddies. Buddies are assigned a new student based on gender, age and personality. We require the buddy to: • give the new student a tour of the school • walk their new friend to each class • eat lunch together • introduce them to other friends • exchange email addresses or telephone numbers
• encourage them to join a club or sport • make them feel welcomed at ACS We entail the buddies to provide this amount of effort during the first week of school. However, we encourage both parties to continue the relationship as an ongoing bond. The Buddy Program operates even when new students come to our school midway through the year. It is our goal that students will take what they learn about being a friend with an unfamiliar person and apply this serving approach in real-world settings. Dittman, M. “Friendships ease middle school adjustment.” American Psychological Association 35.7 (2004): 18. Web. 17 Oct 2011. Wentzel, K., McNamara-Barry, C., & Caldwell, K. (2004). Friendships in middle school: influences on motivation and school adjustment . Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(2), 195-203.
Middle School Buddy Program
Owl Buddy Program, Elementary School
STUDENTservices Optimal Learning
by Ryan Haidis, Niki Cocorelis, John Dimopoulos and Stephanos Kavvadias, students
Changing the world one step at a time
there. We invited her to come in our OLP class and share her story with us and she gladly explained her journey to a country so different than where she was living. When Hara first started to talk about her trip, she explained that she helped by being an assistant for children at school, farming, helping at the orphanage, and collecting crops from the fields. There were also times when Hara and the kids would have fun and play soccer. What Hara had to say was really inspirational and there were many touching stories that she shared. However, her most touching and mind-opening story was about a young boy that suffered from HIV. When Hara met him, she was afraid to go near him; she would always try to get away from him whenever he approached her until one day, the young boy went and sat next to Hara and touched her. This is when they made first contact. After that Hara realized that there was no reason to be afraid of him and to treat him any different from anyone else. She had made her first move and now it was easier for her to overcome her fears. Even though the story of the women in Saudi Arabia and Hara’s story are different, they both had one thing in common, they taught us and showed us the same thing: how these stories are changing the world and they change the way we think. These stories make us think deeply and actually care about the world, inspiring us to make it a better place and help the rest of the people in need of our help. Together we can overcome anything and try to overcome every obstacle the gets in our way. Our feelings and thoughts are the things that motivate us to do things such as what Hara Krasopoulou did.
September 26 was a day that made us change our view of the world, of people and even, of ourselves. As part of a class activity, we read an article in the ‘Guardian’ newspaper claiming that by 2015, women in Saudi Arabia would be able to vote. The Saudi Arabian authorities had made this decision only a few hours before we read the article. Although this started as a simple OLP class activity, the impact that it had on our world view was profound. It made us open our minds to accept the difficult reality of a world that we are not aware of. The right to vote is a massive issue for women in the Islamic community, especially considering their minimal entitlements. However, the effects this decision will have on society are important, not only to the women of Saudi Arabia, but to all people who, in the Twenty-first Century, have been denied the basic human rights that we, in the Western world, take for granted. We believe that the level of hope for women has reached new heights. Slowly, women in Saudi Arabia are getting what they want and deserve, and women in the world can now feel like they have more rights. They can try and hope that one day, their turn will come. The Islamic community is a new, different world. Not all people have the same rights there. Women need male supervision and cannot drive a car. That does not necessarily mean it is bad. It may offer more protection towards women and towards the country. It makes us think, is this decision better? Does every policy have a positive and a negative? These questions make us wonder how our world differs from theirs. Another story of changing the world one step at a time is the story of Hara Krasopoulou, a 12th grade student who went to Uganda, Africa to help the children
Open House at the Optimal Learning Program
The Optimal Learning Program is pioneering its first series of open house events for the 2011-2012 academic year. This is an attempt to connect the OLP specialists with ACS faculty and students. In keeping with the philosophy of the school, leading through innovation, the Optimal Learning Program’s Coordinator and Specialists look forward to welcoming you to their first open house. During these events, teachers and staff will be provided with the opportunity to learn more about learning differences through hands-on activities designed to challenge the attendees into embracing learning difficulties. Walking in the shoes of a student with a learning difficulty will present a clear demonstration of how such a student feels on a daily basis at school. Accommodating students with learning differences in the classroom can be overwhelming. The goal of the OLP is to provide workshops that are insightful and suggest strategies that can alleviate the stress teachers may be experiencing. Our teachers’ desire to learn more led to the creation of this initiative. This thirst for learning was reflected in the overwhelming response to the survey that was sent soliciting information from educators. The survey consisted of twenty topics from which the teachers had to choose five that they were most interested in. The flood of responses provided the following results: Due to popular demand, the first topic for exploration will be attention, concentration and staying focused, an issue teachers encounter with most, if not all, students at some point. Painting a positive picture of the Optimal Learning Program by creating a safe and approachable environment, establishing open lines of communication, creating a positive rapport with colleagues and engaging the minds of our peers is at the forefront of this ground-breaking occasion. TOPIC
1 2 3 4 5 6 Attention/concentration/staying focused ADHD Teaching to the different learning styles Memory (short-term, long term and working memory) Aspergers Syndrome Gifted and Talented
by Chrysoula Ploutou, Coordinator, Optimal Learning Program
Percent of Teachers Interested
65% 52% 50% 40% 31% 31%
Please note that an equal amount of educators chose Aspergers Syndrome and Gifted/ talented. 37
Office Of iB/AP Programs
Learning Beyond the Classroom Walls
For yet another year, the Junior IB class travelled to the Peloponnese to experience learning outside the classroom, connect with the community, bond with each other and, most of all, to develop both awareness and action in assisting to shape and improve the society in which they live. The IB faculty team that organized the learning activities were Dr. Prodromidi (IB Experimental Science faculty), Mr. Kalogridaki (Academy counselor) and Ms. Dragatakis (CAS coordinator). The focus of our Juniors’ service experience in relation to the IB diploma requirement of Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) was to try to make a difference in society, rather than just collecting “CAS hours”. “Engaging minds servicing the world” was the mindset from the beginning of the trip. The administration and staff of KEPEP Lehainon, an institution for mentally challenged individuals, shared the rewards of giving with our students, providing them with a good example of meaningful and rewarding service. Working in groups outdoors as young scientists helped them realize that knowledge is not bound to the four walls of a classroom, but can also occur in a natural environment, such as the Lake of Kaifa. Content delivery for experimental sciences
by Julia Tokatlidou Director, IB and AP Programs
continued from the lake to the dining area of the hotel, where student groups were introduced to some basic skills of data manipulation. This year’s IB juniors continued the excellent reputation students of ACS Athens have created over the years. Their enthusiasm and serious involvement in tree planting on the hill of Galani in ancient Olympia was once again praised, not only by the local government and volunteer associations but by the local media as well. Combining all these experiences into a holistic approach to learning and motivating students to become critical thinkers and inquirers was the focus of their last workshop. This workshop introduced students to the Extended Essay requirement of their IB diploma program. Many thanks to all of our students for their active participation and sensitivity. Special thanks to Raseel Sharaf and Aliasha Zafar for undertaking the roles of trip photographer and journalist. Here are some of our students’ reflections about this educational experience:
Ms. Mazaraki holding the picture painted by Kim Soo Yeon, ACS Athens Senior IB diploma student, donated to KEPEP Lehenon with the wish to brighten the walls of the institution.
Junior IB students performing an experiment at Lake Kaiafa
Picture from workshop on introduction to statistical analysis. Students working in groups analyzing the data collected from the experiments conducted at Lake Kaiafa
Creativity, Action, Service: Engaging Young Minds Servicing the Society
“CAS is not about collecting hours, but giving back to society and engaging young minds.” We heard that phrase being repeated countless times during our stay in Ancient Olympia, but never had I ever stopped to consider the true meaning behind it. To me, CAS was just an acronym – Creativity, Action, Service – and that was all. There was no true underlying message behind those three letters, they were just there to be completed, like every other IB requirement that I would do half-heartedly. Throughout the trip it became clear that –I believe that I can safely speak on behalf of my fellow Juniors as well – CAS is definitely not just about collecting hours. This trip encompassed the heart of community service, TOK and even knowledge itself. Dr. Prodromidi had talked to us about how the world is an ecosystem and everything is connected; that very notion got me thinking about the nature of CAS. How would I make a difference? How would I want to make a change? What can I do to help? Suddenly, after the representatives and directors of Kepep were kind enough to speak to us about their organization, it struck me like lightning. The entire scope of continuous involvement in helping these mentally challenged children screamed ‘serving society and helping the community’ and the plunge I felt in my stomach afterwards told me that I was looking at the right side of CAS. Understanding the situation of these unfortunate children was key – however, I was subjected to the view (and extremely agreed with it as well) that compassion is important, but rarely does anything. If I felt sorry for someone, I won’t be doing them or me any good. Taking action was required, by serving a side of society that is hidden away in the depths of Lehenon and reaching out to grab them and let them know they are people too. It brought them rapture to simply listen to music, look at paintings and play in the sun. If such small actions brought on the perpetual happiness of a person in need, why is it that we, the bright young minds engaged in potentially shaping the future, aren’t taking a bigger step towards helping these children? The KEPEP talk really changed my perspective about helping others, which can always act as a way to help yourself. The idea that we can do so much through so little motivated me to become a more active person in society. On the other hand, drawn by the beauty and tranquility of the lakeside, the science experiments we conducted were my favorite kind of school activity – the one that makes us learn in a fun and entertaining way. The statistics workshop helped expand our horizons on the scope of the scientific prerequisite approaches, which I have kept in mind ever since, in anticipation of forthcoming IB science lab reports and data analysis. As for the tree planting, I can honestly say that community service never felt so good and fulfilling! The feel of the gloves on my hand and the dirt on my knees
by Raseel Sharaf, Student
and the tree in my palms, being patted into the dirt with the prospect that sometime soon, this young seedling will grow into a stern oak tree that will rise meters high and become part of that intertwined ecosystem. This action has the power to truly give you an unbelievable sense of significance. By the time all 150 plants were safely in their respective holes, I felt satisfied but greedy to do more. After that was over, I swore to myself that I’d return to plant trees again in the near future. Next, the archaeological site and museum brought out the historical fanatic in me. I was in awe by the history that surrounded me and overwhelmed by the magnificence of the structures. However, the structure that had the biggest effect on me was the First Olympic Stadium. Somehow, standing in the middle of it and relishing in the fresh air and mountainous surroundings, the raw sense of historical significance gave me the chills. All I could think of was that sometime very long ago, in the very same place where I was standing, history was being made – I never wanted to leave the overcoming feeling of that place. Lastly, the Extended Essay Workshop taught me a lot more than what I knew (or rather what I thought I knew) about this fairly broad IB requirement. By the end of the activity, I had felt like I understood the basics and could actually distinguish between a well-written and poorly written research question, because of the practice we went through to grasp the difference. Although I am sure there are many gaps I need to fill until I embark on my Extended Essay journey, I thought that the workshop taught me all I needed to know as an introduction. Ultimately, this field trip showed me the true meaning of CAS. I learned what it meant to make a difference in the world and be involved in all areas of the community – by action, not only compassion. I realized that in order to be an active member of society, we must do something to help, change, and serve our community in the biggest way possible. The IB retreat not only encapsulated the entirety of the IB philosophy, but it also reached out and touched our community-serving hearts and made us say yes, we will be the ones who will spread the word and change the world! In conclusion, the IB retreat was a great experience because it gave me the opportunity of working with my friends and classmates on a variety of different activities and through numerous interactions. In addition to expanding my knowledge of the IB program, CAS hours and the Extended Essay, this experience has also encouraged me to become a better person in society, while also equipping me with skills and knowledge that will certainly be useful along the rigorous IB road.
Office Of iB/AP Programs
IB Year 1 students reflect on their experiences from the IB Retreat
Hermis Geragides touched the hearts of the presenters of the KEPEP institution when he stood up and addressed its members. “We (as healthy individuals) measure happiness with different criteria. For the children of your institution, happiness can be defined in a unique way. According to their needs and not ours. It is possible that with simple things we can offer so much happiness to them…much greater than what we may ever be able to achieve. Feeling sorry for these children can only create a sense of inferiority, when in fact these children may have found happiness through the simple things that you, (the KEPEP staff) offer with patience, understanding and affection. That is why you have earned my great respect.” Kouvas Panagiotis – Education is not only about specific learning and understanding of academic material. It most importantly is something that makes people better, more active and truly mature members of the society. Dominic Lauren – The smalls actions we take, such as lending a helpful hand or helping people in need, truly shape our society. Even if it may seem minor, it has the potential of forming a smile on someone’s face and changing a part of the world. Sifis Xiradakis – The important bond of the individual and society has been almost lost. CAS and generally the whole IB program promote that bond. Society must not be selfish, but generous. Dephine Vlastos – I realized that it is my generation that is in charge of making a difference. Marta Aharonian – Everyone is beautiful in their own unique way. Evanthia Anastopoulou - Our social values, engaging minds with the world, our connections and interconnections with everyone in our society – we can improve the world we live in, since it is ours; we are responsible of taking good care of it. Eva Dalla –I believe this trip made us better people, better thinkers, better humans, but most of all, better helpers of the world. Peter Kyriakopoulos – The amount of CAS hours is not the only thing that matters – it is also important what we plan to improve our society. Anna Petrakos – There is never any harm in helping one’s community if they need your help. In the end, it brings self-satisfaction to both sides of any situation. Daphne Apostolides – If I succeed in putting a smile on a child’s face, taking a tear off of a mother’s pained face or planting a tree in an extremely polluted region, I will feel and consider myself accomplished. Anna Ignatiadis – This trip made me more aware of my role in my community and environment. Moreover, it made me think of many questions which may make me a “better”, more aware person in the long-run. Nicky Vasiliadou – It is essential that we understand that it is rather easy to just talk about things we want to improve, but a lot more difficult to actually do it. Yet, this is the reason you develop a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you actually do. Nicolas Kalantzakis – The formula of a good IB student: give = take x 2. On qualitative community service – by giving twice the amount you are taking. Tsitsilonis – Put yourself aside to have a better place to live in.
Reflections on the College Board Evening, featuring Henry R. Broaddus, Associate Provost for Enrollment and Dean of Admission, College of William and Mary
by Peggy Pelonis, Director of Student Services
The college application process is undoubtedly one of the most stressful processes that a senior faces, if not the most stressful. Students struggle to stay ahead of the game as they are faced with never ending paper work involving decisions that must be made regarding their future, all in the midst of homework assignments, papers, projects, exams and of course, extra curricular activities. Maintaining a balance among all these becomes what seems to be a balancing act that often leaves students and families exhausted, anxious and unsure of what the future holds. Starting early then is the best type of preparation as this leaves plenty of time to research, have questions answered as they come up and be prepared for any last minute unexpected twists and turns that seem to catch all involved by surprise. Generally, the college application process is at best daunting and needs time, patience and good preparation in advance. Thus, it was no surprise to see the ACS library full of parents and students during the evening presentation by College Board representative, Mr. Henry Broaddus. His advice? Simple, common sense wisdom, that, no doubt, confirmed the valuable advice offered by counselors and teachers on a daily basis to students. A realistic approach to applying for college is very necessary. Choosing schools that are the best fit and within a student’s reach or perhaps a little beyond is vital. The most important piece of information provided in the college application and what colleges look for according to Henry Broaddus, is authenticity; student originality. Since every student has a unique personality, which includes a personal way of thinking about and experiencing the world, the admissions committee hopes to see this coming through in the application. Furthermore, any information regarding critical thinking and problem solving skills that is personal to the student is welcomed. Mr. Broaddus stressed numerous times the words “sincerity” and “authenticity”. This is what makes the committee pay attention. How then do students decide on which schools to apply to? Well, college catalogs, websites, advice from counselors and visits to the schools, are all very helpful in the process. The important thing to remember is that it is indeed a process. As information is gathered, discussions with experienced counselors, prior students, administrators and alumni are all helpful toward assisting students in deciding which school will best suit them. Overall, Mr. Broaddus believes that there are two things students and parents must keep in mind when deciding about college: Match and cost. To help estimate overall cost in each institution, net price calculator is a new tool on every web site of each institution which provides an approximate estimate of the cost. Furthermore, information regarding financial aid and scholarships is available through numerous websites and of course, counselors have access to all this information. Should students be very specific in their application or have a broad idea of the area of study? According to Mr. Broaddus, most students tend to change their major after the first or second semester. They may take a course that they find so interesting and change direction because of it. Similarly, by talking to the faculty or an advisor, students have been known to change tracks. It is very normal for students to be undecided regarding a major. Actually, all students are undecided when they begin college, they just don’t know it!! Overall, it is important to remember that we live in an information society. Loads of information is available at the press of a button. Managing the information however, can be overwhelming. Thus, it is wise to use all resources available to students, most importantly, student relationships with teachers and counselors will be the best investment because the better these professionals know the student the better they will be able to guide them in the direction that is best, highlight their strengths, support them through the process and represent them in the best possible light to the college admissions committee. At ACS, Athens students have the opportunity to participate in the college application process as early as freshman year. Via their Advisory classes, they can disseminate through information to help them sort through the kind of career they aspire toward, the kind of college they hope to attend, the kind of profile they must strive to have in order to be a good match and the type of balance they must maintain in order to stay healthy, be resilient and be competitive for admissions. Student well being is priority as we all know that a happy student is a successful student. Thus, knowing that the college application process evolves as students evolve is helpful in ultimately getting students to the ‘best fit’ institution, but also in helping students grow toward being better prepared to face life after high school.
ACS ATHENS HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL “Students for students”
If anyone wants to see a student-run event, the ACS Athens Halloween Carnival is the prime showcase! On Thursday, October 27th, the Annual Halloween Carnival took place at our campus and once again the community spirit was at its climax – Students for Students! What does that mean? A total of 29 school clubs / sports teams provided games for younger children that came all dressed up and ready to play and have fun! The booths were run by Middle School and High School students who were there (with their staff supervisors) with the sole purpose of providing a fun-filled evening for the young ones! There were a variety of activities: bean bag games, darts, golf, Frisbee toss, basketball, soccer and hockey activities, treasure hunt, memory game, egg spoon
by Annie Constantinides
races, TV games and many more; the Haunted House which was “haunted” by our own high school students was the attraction of the evening. In addition, the Elementary School Pumpkin Patch, which was perfectly situated at the entrance of the school with the lit candles, set the tone for this special “spooky” Halloween night! However, what is unique about the ACS Athens Halloween carnival is that it was embraced by the entire community; parents volunteered their time in assisting with the food court area and providing food for all the guests, by donating baked goods or simply by attending with their kids and family members. What is more intriguing is that our guests included young children and families from other schools, who just wanted to experience the Halloween Spirit!
The Night before Friday the 13th
The wind in the trees made sounds of a dying, screaming witch. The moon shined onto the empty road near the cemetery and cast spooky shadows all around the block. Sally slipped off her bunny slippers and crawled into bed. Tomorrow was Friday, Friday the thirteenth, and also her nineteenth birthday. She flipped the light switch and drifted into a deep sleep. It wasn’t long until a loud noise from outside her apartment window woke her suddenly. Glass was scattered onto the floor below the now-shattered window. She got up quickly in a state of terror. She desperately searched for the light switch, but it was gone, like it had evaporated into thin air.
by Frida Johansson, Student
The next thing she knew, a large shape was crouched before her. Her teeth shook like an earthquake as the dim moonlight revealed the mutated creature. It was a monster, with fierce features, adaptations such as sharp teeth, snake-like, slick skin, a large tail for support, and a ridiculously scary grin. Sally freaked out and three seconds later she was out the door in a ridiculous rush. She almost fell down the apartment stairs but finally reached the exit. She pushed the door open but instead of opening at her touch, it vanished, like a leaf decomposed by bacteria, but much quicker. The cold wind from outside soared like an eagle and hit her bare skin, the smell of sewage and dirt roamed through her senses and she couldn’t help but cough and cover her mouth. Sally had little time to react to the horrific surroundings
because the huge beast, resembling a radiation victim in a nuclear malfunction incident, in a horrific way, was crawling quickly down the stairs after her flesh and blood. Sally ran. She ran past her neighbor’s house which was in ruins. She ran past the neighborhood’s peaceful pond, which was now a dirty, polluted pool, black as the ash rising from an erupting volcano after plate tectonic movement has caused the disaster, like all biological indicators of the area had died, and every resource depleted like black holes in the mantle of the Earth, leaving nothing behind… A loud noise behind the fright-stricken girl suggested a large rock from space, like a meteor, had collapsed over the monster following her. She turned and saw nothing. It was like every circle of life or system had failed. Evaporation and condensation collected any substance floating free and absorbed it into the black sky and atmosphere, condensing it further, and further, closing space off forever. Everything had vanished into the abiotic sky, or melted in the 1,228 kilometer deep inner core of boiling materials. Sally fell to her knees in despair and horror. What had happened just over night? This was a nightmare. It couldn’t be happening. Everything was gone, extinct, deserted, like a world-wide famine with no end. The oceans were dried out. Corpses of previous biotic factors and populations were scattered over the cold land. The smell of clogged sewages soared over the dirty, oil-covered rivers and earth. The last one percent of fresh water had vanished. The hydrosphere had dried out, and the biosphere was getting choked by greenhouse gases; air was nowhere to be found, just death. Hy-
potheses could not be formed and predictions could not be guessed, there was no mass, nothing entering or exiting the systems, whether open or closed, there was nothing. Sally felt herself choke on the polluted air. Tears formed in her swollen eyes. She didn’t know why or how the world had come to this fate, but it was too late now. She had a gut instinct that there was a large risk she would vanish just as the rest of the life on the former Earth. Nine minutes later and Sally’s predictions became reality as the gaseous substance she inhaled into her lungs choked her. She felt the dead, acidic world eat away at her skin, her flesh, and her blood evaporate into empty space. Never again could 500,000 trees be chopped down in order to please humanity with the Sunday news… Never again would humanity exist. Never again would the Earth be the same… “Happy birthday Sally darling!” her mother sang brightly the next morning. Sally did not move. She did not wake up. She was limp, cold, and dead in her bed. Sometimes nightmares are more real than they seem… Happy Halloween
Looking at our past, serving our future
At the beginning of every school year, 4th grade Greek native and near native speakers look forward to participating in the OXI Day celebration and getting dressed in blue and white, the colors of the Greek flag. The Greek national celebration of October 28, 1940 is a well-established and popular tradition in the Elementary School, where fourth graders present the historical account of OXI through a dramatization that includes photographic documents, songs and poems. For our Greek language A students, this celebration is part of a unit that looks into the historical moment of OXI. Our students learn about their recent history and the factors that led to Greece’s heroic refusal of fascist Italy’s ultimatum. They get acquainted with level-appropriate, engaging and challenging pieces of literature. The fourth graders recite the world famous verses of Nobel-prize winning poet Odysseas Elytis, and discover important human
by Irini Rovoli, Anastasia Papageorgiou Modern Greek Language, E.S.
values and ideals such as homeland, freedom, assertiveness and peace. In preparing for this celebration, important life skills are put into practice: presenting in front of an audience, singing and reciting all require responsibility, coordination and working together as a team. The enthusiastic audience, apart from parents and faculty, consists of all grades K-5. In their Greek class, all of these students have already learned about OXI Day through various texts, poems and songs, so they come prepared to watch their fourth grade peers perform on stage.
The OXI Day celebration of the Elementary School is much more than a great show at the ACS Athens Theater. For our fourth grade Greek speakers, it is an opportunity to build strong connections with Greek history and culture. It is a rewarding and lasting educational experience.
A year-long series of exhibitions, performances, talks, and
In support of the Arts Center at ACS mission to promote Greek - American cultural exchange, and to celebrate the American roots of ACS Athens, the Institute for Innovation and Creativity at ACS Athens and the Arts Center at ACS seek to host a series of programs throughout the year that showcase a wide array of American artists, performers and art forms; thinkers and their ideas and inventions; and cultural traditions. These programs may take the form of concerts, dance and theater performances, lectures, discussions, informal artists’ talks, author’s readings, film showings, exhibitions, food festivals, fashion shows, classes and workshops scheduled throughout the Spring and Autumn of 2012. Programs will be open to ACS Athens students, faculty, parents, alumni and the wider Athens community. Our goal is to host a minimum of 10 discrete events in 2012 under the American Festival banner. To make the American Festival 2012 a reality, the IIC and the Arts Center at ACS Athens seek support from US institutions and organizations in Greece,
discussions at the ARTS CENTER AT ACS ATHENS
as well as from ACS Athens parents, alumni and community partners in the form of: • Offering a performance, presentation, informal talk, formal lecture, reading, exhibition or demonstration showcasing their own artistry, performance skills, thinking, work, and/or invention • Facilitating contact with individuals and groups from outside the school community (in Greece and in the US) who could present their work in Athens as part of the Festival program • Connecting us with sources of funding and sponsorships to support Festival programs. If you can help in any of these ways -- or in any others -- please contact Steve Medeiros, Director, Institute for Innovation and Creativity at ACS Athens at email@example.com or +30 210-6393-200, x302.
The Institute for Innovation and Creativity is an initiative of ACS Athens
7th Annual Conference on Learning Differences
The Conference Committee is seeking proposals for 2-hour workshops on Saturday, May 5, 2012.
Workshop proposals must include: • Presenter/Workshop Information Sheet (included in this document) • Presenter’s curriculum vitae/credentials • A short bio of Presenter (as it should appear in conference program) • A picture of Presenter • A Workshop Description (200 words, as it should appear in conference program) All presenters must incorporate discussions, hands-on experiences and active involvement of participants in their presentations/workshops (the reading of a research paper, for example, is not an appropriate format in this venue). Proposals must be received by November 11, 2011. Email complete proposals to: Christiana Perakis, Director, Learning Enhancement Programs & SNFLC, ACS Athens firstname.lastname@example.org. Please cc Melina Vassiliadis, Conference Coordinator, email@example.com Submissions will be reviewed and selected by the Reviewing Committee. Applicants will be notified by November 15, 2011 if their proposal has been accepted. ACS Athens is a non-profit organization, and all registration fees and sponsorship funds are applied to cover conference expenses.
Presentation/Workshop presenters are provided with:
the 7th Annual Learning Differences Conference
• Free conference registration, so that they may attend other Saturday workshops of their choice (fees for 2-day Institute programs apply) • Lunch on Saturday • Coffee Breaks • Recognition of presenter and organization he/she represents in the conference brochure and on the ACS Athens website • Display of presenter’s publications and/or organization’s materials, if requested • Dinner Saturday evening, hosted by the President of ACS Athens
• Teachers, Counselors, Psychologists and Specialists from American, Greek and International schools and organizations of Greece and other countries • Parents from the community
Workshops are delivered in English The conference program will consist of: Thursday & Friday, May 3 & 4, 2012: Institute Workshops Saturday, May 5, 2012: Three sessions of four workshops each
Thursday, May 3, & Friday, May 4, 2012 Saturday, May 5, 2012
May 3-5, 2012 www.acs.gr
Please note: Workshops must address one of the following: Testing/assessment Differentiation/ strategies Emotional/social well-being Inspiring genius and creativity
For more info on participating go to the website: www.acs.gr
After School: Learning Enhancement Program
by Christiana Perakis, Director, Learning Enhancement Programs & SNFLC
The After School Learning Enhancement Program is a program which extends beyond the school day and provides a supportive learning environment to our students at ACS Athens. The purpose of the program is to facilitate students through learning processes and to provide them with a strong academic, social and emotional foundation. In order to accomplish these goals, during the after school program, a range of educational programs and creative work have been developed to encourage students to improve and maximize their learning potential. The program is administered by instructors with education or psychology background who have the knowledge and expertise to enhance learning. Students will learn to apply basic skills and strategies to their core classes to be successful. After school activities are sensitive to the various grade levels, age groups and issues of diversity, in order to best meet the needs of individual children as a priority. After school activities target different student needs and emphasize specific learning outcomes in mathematics, reading, writing and completion of homework. The ways in which these support programs are provided to students is what really makes the difference. ACS Athens has identified key elements of high performance to growing minds, and to enhance those elements, utilizes curricula and teaching methods that make learning fun and exciting. Each After School Activity is staffed with qualified personnel maintaining a ratio of one adult for every 3-4 students. The reading and math support classes run with a ratio of one teacher for every 2 students. The students presently enrolled in the program understand its value and are happy to see their learning growth. Parents receive daily feedback on what was accomplished during the session and how their child is progressing. It’s a TEAM approach to ensure student success!
Engaging teacher’s minds and serving students: Techniques for Building Resiliency in the Classroom
by Irene Soteres, 4th Grade Teacher
My participation in the 6th annual conference on Learning Differences: Building Resilience in Student Learning hosted by ACS Athens last May was essential and inspiring. It allowed me to open up my horizons and allow ideas to blossom that were still seedlings at the beginning of the conference. The prevailing message from the conference was that resilience is the most valuable skill a teacher can teach her students. Comparing myself to my students, I can honestly feel strengthened and resilient because I was put into a collegiate environment where my ideas were enhanced by the social network around me. These ideas provided me with a fresh outlook on the classroom. As teachers we must always remember we are working with precious material, a mixture of emotions, drama, physique and knowledge or, in other words, a child. We have great power and persuasive abilities that go beyond our comprehension. We must improve ourselves and help our students evolve and change into better human beings.
The conference presenters provided a rich source of information and innovation for educators. They were well informed and professional. They were able to carry out the message of promoting creativity which prepares students with resiliency skills in this ever changing world. My participation in the conference was very constructive. There were a variety of enlightening workshops in which content was philosophical yet practical, and easily applied to a classroom setting. Using conference experiences and collegial advice is a significant enhancement to a classroom teacher’s skills. It is all the more evident that in the classroom, all educators have taken on more roles than just the academic performance of each student. Fostering an environment of proper student behavior and respect provides an opportunity for all personality types to develop and become resilient. Similarly, focusing on the whole child and respecting each child’s differences enables the teacher to adjust her teaching style to the needs of all students. An excellent and easily applicable skill that can be used in the classroom is related to respecting students in the class. At any age, grouping students is a challenge for a teacher. Asking simply, “Who do you think you can work well with?” allows the student to take the responsibility for their own participation and for meeting the assignment goal in class. By allowing students to accept their own responsibilities within the classroom, a sense of mutual respect is established. This type of environment allows students and teachers to be successful.
Through these types of forums for communication and opportunities for individualization, students learn to persevere. Persevering through a difficult situation builds character. Teachers who provide this character-develoThe conference gave me the theoretical insight into stuping opportunity through acts of perseverance allows dent resilience. A psychologist presenting at the workstudents to have a sense of purpose and pride. Students shops discussed the psyche of the child and the changing need these opportunities in order to make and meet Student-led Class Meeting family structure in detail. Drawing from this understandgoals in their future. More often than not, students who ing of resilience, I saw areas in which my classroom could become adults with perseverance skills are indeed resifoster the whole child and provide an oasis for understanding and cultivation of lient. This method of nurturing success in the classroom by teaching students to each individual in the class. Granted, this is not an overnight process. However by become better problem solvers and decision makers encourages success in all incorporating some components into the classroom, I am hopeful that I can help aspects. Once the students feel comfortable and inspired, they will adapt these all my students become more resilient and capable human beings. skills to themselves. Aiding students to adapt these qualities can make them stronger and more capable adults. Teachers can promote resiliency through the quesOne way that this can be done is through a class meeting. During this time tions they ask and the responsibility that they ask the students to accept. Some students can present their conflicts and issues and talk through them, while at important points in building a resilient classroom include a strong sense of comthe same time, they hear their peers offering advice and counseling. Often times munity, a clear structure in the school day and a variety of presentation styles. those who are better skilled at coping with stressful situations are willing to provide answers and suggestions to those who are less capable. Such skills enThe conference presenters reinforced the importance of the emotional level of able social relationships to prosper. The social skills that ensue allow students to the child, but teachers must also focus on the academic. Encouraging students to feel confident and positive. When these skills are coupled with an understanding strive to be the best learners they can be is not always easy, especially when and safe environment where a positivity and a love of learning are fostered, students are academically or socially challenged. Teachers must provide students students become resilient. with a nurturing environment in order to be successful. All of these points, along with many others, have just one central goal: improved learning for all students, Another technique is role playing. When a situation arises where students have a no matter their background or ability. This is yet another way to become more disagreement or are angry, role playing has proved to be an exceptional way to resilient in the classroom. allow students to express themselves and their emotions in a way that they are learning lifelong skills. “Guiding the dialogue” through specific phrases and scenarAttending workshops and conferences is an extremely important resource teachios ensures students focus on the skills needed to solve and deal with a problem ers can take advantage of in order to come into contact with other colleagues that was unbearable or impossible for the student. In addition, role playing is an from around the world. These meetings allow open communication and a means excellent technique for building perceptiveness and sensitivity. Students who parto share problems, issues and successes. Through these conferences, teachers can ticipate in the role playing, as well as those students who listen, gain valuable insight become more equipped and capable to provide their students with contemporary in understanding their classmate’s emotions. Through this understanding they can skills to serve their needs. My attendance at the Learning Difference Conference then transfer the information to other situations, thus becoming more capable of has made an impact on me and has enhanced my skills as a teacher. It is a valuable using these acquired coping strategies in conflict situations. resource that anyone who wants to make a difference in a child’s life.
“Knots, cheeseburgers and ball point pens”: A knotty approach for shadow teachers to bond together at ACS Athens
When hearing about the typical day of a shadow teacher, one cannot help but to be impressed! Accompanying a student throughout the school day to provide support and stability is just one of the many things a shadow teacher does. Whether they work in the Elementary School, Middle School or Academy, all shadow teachers serve a similar role: to help their students adapt to the school environment and to provide strategies that are necessary for growth. Shadow teachers often have been referred to as paraprofessionals, student aides, teacher aides and even student tutors. Here at ACS Athens, however, the term “Shadow Teacher” refers to a skilled educator who works alongside the teacher in the classroom to provide academic, social, behavioral and emotional support to students with learning differences. The ever-increasing number of shadow teachers over the past several years is a clear indication of the vital service that they provide to their students. There are a large number of factors taken into consideration before a shadow teacher decides what services to provide or the degree of involvement that may be necessary in and out of the classroom. Shadowing a student requires that one understand how a child’s age, grade-level, background and social-emotional development interact with the student’s academic abilities and learning style to determine strategies for success. Often times, the teacher’s character and educational philosophy are a key component. Certain aspects of shadow teaching are uniform across the board: they remain discreetly in the background of the classroom and cooperate with the teachers; they are expected to exercise patience and understanding and anticipate when they are or are not needed. At times, they are responsible for documenting the student’s progress. Other times they must work on strengthening areas that their stu-
by Christiana Perakis, Director, Learning Enhancement Programs & SNFLC
dents need improvement. Most importantly, providing students with the necessary tools to develop self-management skills and autonomy enables them to not only thrive in the ACS Athens community, but also, in the outside world. The two key ingredients for successful shadow teaching are patience and cooperation. Collaboration and open communication channels between members of the child’s support system are key to achieve his/her goals. Shadow teachers help the students to realize their abilities, uniqueness and potential, while assisting the classroom teacher to do the same. Ultimately, shadow teachers establish the foundation for students to have an equal opportunity to the excellent education that ACS Athens has to offer. On a day to day basis, the often challenging task of keeping a student focused and engaged makes it is easy to lose sight of the progress being made. This is why it is important for all shadow teachers to make time to meet with each other and offer support and reassurance. Before the start of the school year, shadow teachers met for an in-service day that was truly special, motivating us all for the upcoming school year in an indescribable way. The motivation and inspiration expressed by the shadow teachers that day, as we celebrated students’ growth, breakthroughs and accomplishments as a team can be found below:
Reflections by Shadow Teachers
One day before school was officially open, the shadow teachers met to touch base
before the school year began and they would be scattered throughout the three ACS Athens schools. As we all gathered in the Atrium at 9:00 a.m. on August 31st, we greeted each other with excitement, warmth, and enthusiasm after a summer apart. Also, among us were some new faces; new faces are always an affirmation that our role is truly beneficial to the ACS Athens community and a reminder that we make a difference in the classroom, but most importantly in the lives of the children we work with. Over the past three years, we have grown within ourselves as well as in numbers, expanding and evolving as a solid team. The day consisted of various activities that illustrated and defined our role as shadow teachers and our bond as a group. Each activity was effective in “breaking the ice” and focusing our minds on our students and goals for the year. During the activity titled, “Knot a Problem”, teachers were split into two groups. Each group stood in a circle and we held hands with two different people who could not be next to us. Then the challenge was to untangle ourselves! When asked occasionally if we wanted to stop, none of us did. In fact, we did not even pay much attention to those questions! We were busy collaborating, cooperating, and working together to achieve a common goal: to untangle ourselves and bring order into our circle. This activity is an accurate metaphor for how we work as a group: we persist and help each other, because ultimately we all have the same goal of helping our students adapt and function effectively in their school environment. A second activity emphasized our individual role as shadow teachers for our specific students and how this role fits into the ACS Athens community. We were given a handout with a diagram of a cheeseburger, each layer spaced out. We were told that this cheeseburger was our student. Individually we labeled each layer of the cheeseburger according the student’s support system. Afterwards, we got into groups and shared our cheeseburgers. There were so many different cheeseburgers and so many approaches to arranging them. It is safe to say that no two cheeseburgers were the same, indicating the different needs of our students and the different approaches of each shadow teacher. Lastly, each group collaboratively drew its own cheeseburger and labeled each layer according to the consensus of the group and presented it to everyone. It was fascinating to see how each group approached the assignment as a whole, and to note the different components of the student’s support systems that were identified. There was no right or wrong diagram, simply because each approach brought in to focus the flexibility of using numerous methods to work effectively with students. Finally, this activity highlighted the importance of imagination and experimentation with a variety of methods. At the end of the day, after sharing each other’s thoughts, concerns, and advice, Ms. Chris Perakis put our collective goals into perspective with a simple yet sharp and clear metaphor. She held up a Bic pen and asked how many of us liked this pen. There were a few hands raised. Then she held a second, better looking pen and repeated the question. Even more hands went up. Then she held a third pen, an ACS Athens pen and everybody’s hand went up. She held the Bic pen again and said, “This is OK, this is where the shadow teacher group was about three years ago”. Next, she switched pens and lifted the second pen, “This is good, this is where we were last year” and then, she lifted up the third pen and claimed, “This is great, and this is where I want us to be this year.” The clarity of this simple metaphor sat solidly in our minds. With that being the closing thought of the day, we all left knowing we will be “great” this year both for our students and our team. Since this inspirational in-service day, the shadow teachers have picked up the pace and can be found bustling around campus working their magic! Whenever we bump into each other and ask “How’s it going?” we always respond in reference to our students, “Good”, “O.K. a little challenging today; “Busy”; “Great”; “My student is always late!” and so on. Occasionally we have time to give advice and share experiences, while at other times all we can offer is a complementary smile before scurrying off to our respective classrooms. In our students’ classrooms we remain in the background, communicating with our students through hand gestures, facial expressions, little notes and whispers. We remind them to stay focused and organized, confirm their understanding of the lesson, and always provide them with positive feedback, encouragement, and understanding. The shadow teacher’s presence is an ideal solution for creating equal opportunities for students with certain learning and behavior differences to thrive in their academic environment. We are there to guide them in the right direction and reaffirm their confidence, while informing teachers of the specialized support they need. All the while, we are only in the background, or in the shadows if you will, allowing the student to find his/her own identity, and to independently determine what his/her civic duty towards both the school and society is. Every child has a great and unique potential within him/her. Some of these children have difficulty finding what it is that makes them so special. The shadow teacher, along with the entire ACS Athens family, is there to provide a safety net while they realize their capabilities and true potential, so that they may flourish in the world as empowered individuals.
“It’s the Place”
by Kathleen Jasonides, Division Chair, Languages Janet Karvouniaris, Division Chair, Humanities Amalia Zavacopoulou, English Teacher
Humanities students and teachers pose before the tholos in the precinct of Athena at Delphi in October.
While our students assembled beneath the towering cliffs of the Phaedriades in preparation for their climb to the ancient Temple of Apollo at Delphi, we drew their attention to a modest plaque by the gate which informs visitors that Delphi is a World Heritage Site. Not to lose sight of the significance of this fact, we asked the students what might be the difference between studying the temples and sculptures in books or on the Internet and studying them on the site for which they were created. A frequently repeated idea was that after having spent the previous afternoon exploring the lower part of the site, they somehow already felt a much stronger connection to the artifacts and the people who made them. One student’s spontaneous answer seemed to sum up the group’s assessment: “It’s the place!” As educators, our primary role is to engage the minds of our students. It could be argued that in doing so we also have a responsibility to cultivate values of global citizenship. Perhaps one of the most effective ways in which to help students appreciate how they are connected with other peoples of the world is to study the literature, art, music, and history of many cultures. Through an exposure to what has been created by people over time and in distant places, students develop an awareness of their common humanity. The Honors Humanities program at ACS, Athens, offers students many opportunities to gain an appreciation of the world’s cultural legacy in its many forms though on-site study. A student who enrolls in the two-year Honors Humanities program can experience first-hand an impressive list of World Heritage sites. In Greece, the students study at the ancient sites of Delphi and the Acropolis, but also at the fortified Byzantine town of Mistra and the Byzantine monasteries of Dafni and Osios Loucas with their gold mosaics. In France they visit Versailles, Chartres Cathedral and Notre Dame de Paris; and in Italy, the Vatican, Florence, Siena, Villa Adriana and Villa d’Este in Tivoli. In addition, students visit numerous museums which house artifacts from these cultural and historical traditions. Through field study at these awe-inspiring sites, Humanities students develop skills of life-long learning and come to value cultural traditions different from their own. Through personal experience they discover the importance of preserving these monuments and sites for future generations. The importance of these skills and the cultural empathy they cultivate is highlighted when juxtaposed with the recent destruction of World Heritage sites around the world. When the two giant Buddhas of Bamiyan were blown up with dynamite by the Taliban in March 2001, the world was shocked…but not for long. This wanton act of destruction of part of the invaluable cultural heritage of Afghanistan would soon be overshadowed by the loss of 3000 lives in the bombing of the World Trade Center in Manhattan on September 11, 2001. Loss of thousands of innocent lives as a result of terrorist acts and war is a human tragedy that is only compounded by the impact such events have on the cultural legacy of the world. Two years and one month after 9/11, just days after American troops entered Baghdad, the National Museum was looted and an estimated 170,000 artifacts disappeared. (news.bbc.co.uk) These are now referred to as “the lost legacy of Mesopotamia.” (Polk and Schuster) The loss of these important parts of the world’s cultural heritage is now all but forgotten, so why should we care? Heritage comes from the past but it connects us to the present and is passed on to future generations. In 1972, UNESCO established World Heritage Sites around the world “to protect the priceless and irreplaceable legacy of the past that belongs to everyone irrespective of the territory on which it is located.” (whc.unesco.org) In this sense, sites of cultural heritage and educational importance concern us all, no matter where they are located. A people’s cultural legacy is rare and priceless and, like the Bamiyan Buddhas, can never be fully restored regardless of the skill and commitment of the international scientific community.
Notre Dame de Paris, a World Heritage Site
Students pause after a busy day of field study in Brunelleschi’s cloister at Santa Croce, Florence.
The Byzantine city of Mystra offers many fine examples of church architecture.
The larger of the two majestic Bamiyan Buddhas and the gaping void left by the destruction.
Yet, not only is this senseless destruction of the world’s cultural legacy not limited to the past, but such interventions are also being proposed as viable solutions in the name of “economic development.” Plans to bulldoze and dynamite the 1,000 acre site of Mes Aynak in Afghanistan, home to the earliest Buddhist monasteries, in order to create a copper mine, should be just as shocking as the idea of blowing up the Parthenon to extract valuable mineral deposits below. French archaeologists are working frantically to save what they can of Mes Aynak before the Chinese plan goes forward in Afghanistan with the full support of the international community. (Stewart 93) In the meantime, the looting is still going on. According to a recent article by Nic Robertson of CNN, more than 7,000 coins dating back to Alexander the Great were stolen from the Benghazi museum. However, in the same article, there is also a surprising note of hope that ordinary people can become committed to saving world cultural heritage. Near Benghazi, the magnificent Roman ruins have survived several millennia of war and turmoil, protected by Libyan inhabitants who recognized their importance to the world. And the present local residents recently carried on this tradition as they aided the archaeological police in patrolling the site 24/7. The museum of Leptis Magna also scattered its precious artifacts around secured warehouses and distributed thoroughly documented inventories to friends in the capital, an hour’s drive away, so that even if the current war destroyed the town, the history and the cultural artifacts would not be lost. (edition.cnn.com) World Heritage sites exist on all continents and belong to everyone. So, education for global citizenship must include cultivating cultural empathy and creating a sense of stewardship for both the natural and cultural landscape. At ACS Athens, Humanities students learn in class and on-site about the fragility of our world heritage and the tragedy of failing to protect it for their children. In fact, our student’s words – “It’s the place” – seem to take on an added, global significance. By learning to respect and appreciate our world heritage, ACS Humanities students are
better equipped to realize that the mosaic of human history is composed of every piece being in its rightful place. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. “Looters ransack Baghdad museum.” News.bbc.co.uk. British Broadcast Corp. 12 Apr 2003. Web. 10 Oct. 2011. 2. Polk, Milbry and Angela Schuster, eds. The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Baghdad: The Lost Legacy of Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2005. Print. 3. Robertson, Nic. “Libyans battle to protect ancient treasures from looting.” edition.cnn.com. Cable News Network. 13 Oct. 2011. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. 4. Stewart, Rory. “Cool under fire.” Intelligent Life. Sept – Oct 2011. Print. 5. UNESCO World Heritage Centre. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, 1995 – 2011. Web. 10 Oct. 2011.
Villa d’Este, Tivoli, Italy. Villa Adriana and Villa d’Este in Tivoli are both World Heritage sites on the Humanities itinerary.
Student answers the call for innovation
by Alex Stelea, Student www.alexstelea.com
The following essay was submitted by Alex Stelea as part of his college application. His inquiry into innovation techniques used in classroom, impressed Prezi.com who sent him the attached letter
Most individuals in this world have experienced a moment when they stopped and asked themselves the question, “What if?” TEDxYouthDay@ACSAthens aimed to celebrate the innovative thinkers of our generation by giving them just six minutes to impress the world. Having never been on stage before, those six minutes proved to be the happiest and most exciting moments of my junior year. By asking “What If” and putting my emotions and fears aside, the time on stage impacted my personal and professional development in exciting and unforeseen ways. Months of preparation and anxiety had ultimately filtered into this moment on stage: my innovative speech on the use of social media and tablet technology in revolutionizing classroom learning. Taking a deep breath, I channeled all my thoughts into my opening lines, feeling the motivation that allowed me to battle my stage fright. My passion for technology motivated me through two rounds of auditions against well-established public speakers to express my ideas to the world. Learning should be easy and enjoyable, helping students adapt to the future demands of a technologically advanced environment. Being on stage at TED was a unique experience; an event of surprising comfort. Reluctant to leave the spotlight, I was unsure of the future but glad for the chance to show my potential to the world. My speech ended on a very successful note, yet without my knowledge, my professional opportunities were just beginning. It turned out that the spotlight indeed kept on shining. Drew Banks, the head of marketing at one of the fastest growing startups in the world, Prezi, noticed my presentation on their website during a routine search for noteworthy prezi’s. He was impressed by the ideas and use of their product in my presentation that he decided to offer me a job. Naturally as the youngest employee of Prezi, I am very proud of this internship; mainly since my struggle to present my ideas ended up being productive and highly beneficial for my career. The balance of managing my responsibilities at school, my commitment to tennis, and a job at Prezi, has allowed me to mature and accept the responsibilities and commitment of an adult. The TED staff was very helpful with the invaluable support they offered in shaping my ideas. Without the implementation of their suggestions, TED and Prezi wouldn’t have impacted my development, neither professionally nor personally, as a student and future entrepreneur. An internship and a new outlook on life was a pretty good achievement for six minutes. Those minutes on stage were tense and nerve racking; a blur in the perspective of things. Celebrating my “What if” moment provided a backdrop for an opportunity that will hopefully be the gateway to similar experiences. Commit54
ment and tenacity are quintessential qualities that emerged from of my TED experience, yet personal ambition prevailed as the main catalyst. Being ambitious and open-minded to other opinions will continue to open new experiences and horizons in my quest to revolutionize the learning environment.
Alex is a young man of surprising intellect, passion, and initiative. I met Alex after coming across a presentation he developed using my company’s software, Prezi. When I reviewed his prezi, I admired how well he understood the software’s cinematic capacity and utilized Prezi’s non-linear feature set to build his argument. Given the sophistication of this presentation, I assumed Alex was an educational expert and emailed to congratulate him on his excellent prezi design skills. When Alex responded that he was a high school student and that he had developed the prezi for a TEDx Youth Day Speech at his school in Athens, I was floored. I told him that if he was ever in Budapest or San Francisco (Prezi’s two offices), to look us up. He did. While visiting Stanford for a summer program for advanced high school students, Alex emailed me and said he’d like to come visit the Prezi office. He was barely in the door before he was enthusiastically showing me what he had learned in his Stanford course. I immediately knew I wanted to hire him. I had to jump through some hoops to hire a 17year-old support intern who lives in Athens, but I’m happy* to say that Alex is Prezi’s newest (and youngest) employee. PS Happy is an understatement--just today, in his first week, Alex alerted us to a critical bug in the prezi software. Again, I’m floored. -Drew Banks, Head of Marketing, Prezi.com
ACS Athens Students Pilot Choosito! by Helen Sarantes,
Elementary Computer Teacher
Two years ago, ACS Athens was selected by Dr. Eleni Miltsakaki from the University of Pennsylvania to participate in a pilot study for a new search engine, Choosito! Choosito! is an educational search engine whose ambition is to help students and teachers face the challenges that the internet era poses to education. ACS was honored and excited to participate in this pilot study, as many of the features that Choosito! offers will enhance the research experience. The features are summarized as follows: 1. Students can find material that is safe, age appropriate, relevant to the research topic and reliable. 2. Individualized reading levels which are categorized into elementary, elementary+, middle school+ or high school and above. 3. Text is categorized into main subject areas, e.g. Humanities, Language and Literature, Philosophy and Religion, Social Studies, Art, Math and Science, Sports and Health, Business and Career. This year, the ACS Elementary School is continuing its collaboration with Dr. Miltsakaki through its participation in a study on how students research – for example, whether students use multiple sites to find the information they are looking for. So far, both fifth grade classes have been involved, using a control group and an experimental group. The students used the Choosito! search engine to conduct research on famous explorers through a web quest. The study is still in progress and we are looking forward to seeing its results. Dr. Miltsakaki summarized these as follows: 1. The focus of educational purpose has changed radically from knowledge focused to research skills focused. 2. To offer students ways to finding material that is safe, age appropriate, relevant to the research topic and reliable.
“the safe way to transport your goods anywhere on the globe”
Simply Contact Us at...
1 Pandoras Street, 166 74 Glyfada, Athens - Greece
55 Tel: (+30) 210 8941520 - (+30) 210 8941527, Fax: (+30) 210 8944918 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org • www.safewaytransport.gr
Learning to Love Mathematics
Socrates taught us that the unexamined life is not worth living. The unique promise of our profession is that as we teach, we can also learn and grow. My ultimate goal is to stimulate students enough to make mathematics a part of their life. I help them make the connections that will allow them to be able to place their daily mathematics into a broader spectrum of knowledge. I try to engage them in interesting endeavors that will involve them both mentally and emotionally. Through the process of reflection and committing thoughts to paper, we come to know ourselves better and we can develop a more mature perspective of our role as educators. Color and aesthetics not only help us learn, but also help us develop a “feeling”, hopefully a feeling of love for a particular subject. With these thoughts in mind, I started to put together certain projects and activities that would help my students grow to appreciate mathematics and to develop a feeling for mathematics. Mathematics links with all strands of knowledge. It is bound up with the whole process of seeing, understanding and expressing. I have become a researcher and a learner in the classroom as I reflect upon my students’ understandings. Through many experiences, I have learned to experiment and take risks. Through risks, significant learning takes place. The greatest result in all experimenting and risk-taking is the development of a “special” bond between teacher and student. I have learned to respect the intelligence, integrity, creativity and capacity for deep thought and hard work latent somewhere in every child. Everything we have done, thought, sensed, remembered, felt and imagined is registered in us. Together we have tried to examine life through our learning and experiences in the mathematics classroom and to make it worth living.
by Dora Andrikopoulos Middle School Math Teacher / Math coordinator
Students have fun engaging in projects that trigger their minds. The experience gives them a different perspective of the world. They develop an appreciation of knowledge. This, I believe, gives them the freedom to apply themselves and to serve the world in the best manner they can. In the sixth grade, students have worked on statistics projects: researching, organizing, displaying and learning how to analyze data. They have created number patterns and have illustrated examples of patterns in our world. Students have
developed a stronger awareness of existing patterns in our world, and are now able to give brief explanations of each sequence and pattern. Students have also done research on how mathematics was used by ancient civilizations and which inventions have affected mathematics over the centuries. Students have investigated their own personal budgets by analyzing how much money they spend over a certain period of time. This has developed a greater awareness of daily life. They have worked on creating their own recipes of their favorite dishes, using fractions. Students have compared the methods used to increase and decrease a recipe’s serving size. They have also created their own measuring system by designing a new ruler for measuring distance. In the seventh grade, students have written ciphers and created keys with letters and symbols to decode their ciphers. Their deductive and logical reasoning skills have been exercised. Students have also learned about currency exchange rates and calculated prices in different currencies. They have made pamphlets showing the prices of several items in the currencies of three other countries. Over the centuries, people have come up with many different calendars. Students in the seventh grade have researched different kinds of calendars and have come up with original ones of their own. They have also examined the time they spend on homework each day for each subject. They have used conversion skills to change time to fractions, decimals and percents. In the eighth grade, students have developed an appreciation of geometry through research on the qualities of art, sculpture, architecture, nature astronomy/astrology, designs and patterns. We often use linear equations to model a particular situation. We can use an
equation using a fixed initial charge plus a variable charge to describe a situation. Students in the eighth grade have developed equations based on telephone rates, taxi rates and rental car rates among others. They have created linear graphs explaining the rate of change (slope) and the significance of x and y intercepts in each real situation. Students have created their own Math Board Games by choosing problems from units of study to challenge themselves. They have also been introduced to the stock market. They have worked on investing money (hypothetically), and looking at how their stock values increase or decrease, illustrating this information through line graphs and analyzing the trends of different stock companies.
Enhancing self esteem through mindfulness training
by L.S. McMullin M.Sc, Middle School Drama Teacher
The term Mindfulness refers to keeping one’s consciousness alive to the present reality. Practicing Mindfulness strengthens concentration and calms the mind. Mindfulness is a way of life that reveals the gentle and loving wholeness that lies at the heart of our being and has also profound medical & psychological benefits (Jon Kabat-Zinn 1990). A feature article on Mindfulness in Schools, in the October issue of The Psychologist, a magazine published by the British Psychological Society underlines that “accumulating evidence suggests that the social and emotional competence of teachers is a key factor in establishing healthy student-teacher relationships. Mindfulness Training should be a part of teacher training because Mindfulness will be hugely beneficial for both teachers and students in the ‘prosocial classroom”. (Jennings & Greenberg 2009) Part of the Drama Curriculum this year has been to incorporate Mindfulness exercises at the beginning of the lesson, encouraging students to ‘still the mind and focus on their inner and outer breath’. Students have also explored working on the Mandala, a word in Sanskrit that means circle, looking at their personal traits whilst focusing on their own individual potential. Part of our training to become actors and actresses incorporates writing in a journal after every lesson and writing a weekly reflection on progress made during the more experiential parts of our lesson. Students are encouraged to share their experiences of both Mindfulness and their experiences of Guided Visualizations (a tool where students allow their imagination to take them on a journey of self discovery). We sit in a circle for this sharing and the ‘talking stick’ is given to the person who is sharing. Only the person holding the stick is allowed to speak whilst others listen. Ever mindful of the aspects of Quantitative Reasoning, one of our class projects is to make a Venn diagram, to illustrate the similarities and differences students have found between the characteristics of an animal they randomly choose and must then research, someone they admire and their description of self. In order to follow through to the end of the semester, students will be given the same assignment after they have completed their course in Drama, to see how much they have gained through the course and how their initial criteria may have deepened, through their practice. I recently attended the EUROTAS 13th International Conference in Bulgaria to present a paper to be published in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, and to represent SYNTHESIS, the Hellenic Association for Transpersonal Psychology & Research. I was delighted to be able to inform an audience of over one hundred participants about the work being done at ACS Athens. The round table forum was particularly focused on bringing change into the education system and I hope that when Greece hosts the EUROTAS conference in 2014, that ACS students will be able to present their experiences with Mindfulness.
What ACS Athens Middle School Drama students say about Mindfulness?
When the class started to practice Mindfulness, I thought it was silly and pointless. I was also laughing at the other children who practiced Mindfulness. When I started getting used to Mindfulness and when I started doing it correctly, I noticed that after the exercise I felt more relaxed and calmer. After the Mindfulness exercises I concentrated on my work better and I did not talk to the person sitting next to me. Alexander Orion Grade 8 I practice Mindfulness during my daily life to relieve my stress and to calm my nerves when I am scared. It really helps me calm down and I will continue to do Mindfulness even after I leave this class. Celeste Hollingsworth Grade 8 I use Mindfulness to calm my self down if I am angry and to think more clearly. I use Mindfulness every day wherever I am – in the boat, in the car, on my bed, on the couch and even when I am reading on the chair. Konstantinos Chatziparaskevas Grade 8 Mindfulness has changed my life in many positive ways. Doing Mindfulness helps me not to be stressed about grades and to be happier. Damire Dixon Grade 8 Mindfulness has helped me in fencing. I became more principled and got aware of what was going on when I was playing a game. I didn’t see my opponent, I just felt me. Fotis Emery Grade 8 Mindfulness is simply a pleasure. The older you get, the more stress is put on your shoulders, because you have many responsibilities and expectations. By practicing it, all that stress is past. It is extraordinary. Lilena Marinou Grade 8 Mindfulness is a very easy thing to do, it doesn’t take much time and it has a lot of benefits in your daily life. Mindfulness does not make things better. It helps you make them better. Alexander Heliou Le Heux Grade 8 For me personally, I thought that it would be very hard to do Mindfulness because I sometimes feel that I am so hyperactive, that it seems almost impossible to be done, but it turns out that it does not only help me relax and free my emotions, but it has also relaxed me in the meaning that I do not always talk and laugh. I would personally suggest it to many people of all ages. Stefanos Papaconstantinou Grade 8 When I do Mindfulness, I feel much more relaxed, and it helps a bit when I am about to speak in front of people. When I do Mindfulness, I can imagine a small light starting at the bottom of my lungs when I breathe in, and then that small light leaving when I breathe out. Mary Rose Leonard Grade 8 In the Mindfulness exercise I felt that there is a connection between my mind and my breathing. Today I was really concentrated and it made me feel that I was giving energy to my whole body. Stephanie A. Putri Dhinanti Grade 7 In Mindfulness walking, I am always thinking about a story in my head, and it is too interesting. I would rather think about my story than concentrate on my walking. But I try to concentrate on walking. Malina Ueda Grade 7
Mindfulness is a lifetime’s journey along a path that ultimately leads nowhere, only to who you are.’ (Jon Kabat-Zinn 1990).
Is the distance barrier a stumbling block for our student athletes?
Many student athletes aspire to study in the United States while pursuing their passion at the same time…the sport they love and excel in, whether it is basketball, soccer, tennis, cross country or track and field. How far or how close is this “dream”, when one considers the competition that is out there and the actual distance between ACS Athens and the universities across the Atlantic? It is definitely not easy; the fact is that not many ACS Athens athletes have had the opportunity to play college sports, let alone receive a scholarship for their talent. Rony Seikaly, the Syracuse graduate and later an NBA player for the Miami Heat is definitely the greatest success story from our school (class of 1984). We have had a few athletes in the last twenty years that did pursue an education and at the same time participated in intercollegiate sports, but the fact is that it has become even more difficult in recent years. Another fact that perhaps is not known to many is the long-term planning that goes into university sports programs. Student athletes are being “watched” by college recruits from the time they enter high school, which means that the athlete’s performance and development is carefully documented for four years. Who would have thought that scholarship opportunities could appear on the horizon so early in a student athlete’s career?
by Annie Constantinides, Director of Athletics, Summer Camp and Recreational Programs
The question now is, do our student athletes have the talent to play intercollegiate sports? The answer is that some of them do, though only a few of them have had the opportunity to receive academic/athletic scholarships. Just recently, Jessica Ogunnorin (class of 2010) received a 5-year athletic-basketball scholarship at the University of California @ Riverside (division 1) and Phillip Tripodakis (class of 2011) received an academic/athletic scholarship at the Southern University of New Hampshire (division 2). Since ACS Athens is out of the local “recruiting environment” in the United States, networking with professionals in the universities, with athletic directors and coaches, is not only a desirable feature in our sports programs, but a necessity. For the purpose of “opening doors” for our student athletes, Annie Constantinides, the Director of Athletics, visited a number of institutions in the East coast. In order to introduce our school, our sports program and our athletes, many meetings took place with university athletic directors and coaches of basketball, soccer, tennis, cross country and track and field. Most of them were not aware of our school’s existence but ALL of them were positive and eager in further connecting with our school for future athlete prospects! With the technology of our times (youtube), images and footage of our athletes can be viewed in no time, thus making collaboration a much easier endeavor!
The journey went through four states, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, while a number of Division 1 and Division 2 institutions were visited, such as State University of New York @ Stonybrook (Div. 1), Quinnnipiac University, Conn (Div. 1), University of Bentley, Mass (Div. 2), Assumption College, Mass (Div. 2), College of the Holy Cross, Mass (Div. 1), Stonehill College, Mass (Div. 2), Merrimack College, Mass (Div. 2) and Southern University of New Hampshire, New Hampshire (Div. 2).
A Hybrid Sport Competition
Who would have thought that swimmers would compete across the world from their own swimming pool? Or runners would participate in a global track and field competition on-line? Well, it can happen! How? With the help of the information and communication technology (ICT), and the World Virtual School, Global Service (WVSGEO) through the Moodle network. For the first time, students from international schools will participate in numerous individual sports and activities locally (on the campus of their own school or nearby facilities) while actually participating in a global event for that sport. Imagine a student at ACS Athens that is really good at high jump but for some reason he/ she cannot travel abroad to compete and participate in an international competition. With the i-Olympiad, this student can register to participate in the high jump event and be recorded. Dozens of other students/athletes will be doing the same event at their respective international schools around the globe. Scores will be posted via the Moodle i-Olympiad Platform at specific time intervals. After an event has been completed and scores have been published, the top 10 athletes from all of the regions, NESA (Near East South Asia), AAISA (Africa), EARCOS (East Asia), ECIS (Europe), MAIS (Mediterranean States), CEESA (Central and Eastern Europe), TRI-STATES, AASSAA (South America) and AASCA (Central America), will continue to the second round. These top 10 athletes will compete again and based on their recorded results, awards (medals) will be given to the top three. The names of top 10 athletes, their scores and school name will be posted on the i-Olympiad website. Imagine that, a student could actually say: ‘’I won the gold medal in the International School i-Olympiad in the high jump without ever leaving the ACS Athens campus”. ACS Athens is one of the five schools that make up the backbone of this innovative project. The Walworth Barbour American International School in Israel, the International School of Madrid, the American Cooperative School of Tunis, the British International School of Istanbul and ACS Athens put together their powers and effort to make this program get off the ground! A pilot year will run during the present academic year with the participation of the five schools and the goal, by the end of the year, is to promote and invite more international schools around the world to join us.
by Athanasia Kotsiani, PE teacher
Ms. Athanasia Kotsiani and colleagues in Tel Aviv
Moreover the i-Olympiad aims to: a) Increase participation in athletics at each school and within each intra-international school region as well international participation. b) Identify athletes with talents and develop them to their full potential. c) Support talented athletes to enhance their performances at international competitions. d) Provide support to schools and Physical Education programs. e) Develop coaching expertise. f) Provide appropriate competition for all the MS and HS students. g) Promote activities of i-Olympiad membership to a wide spread audience.
The first organizational meeting/workshop took place in Tel Aviv on October 10-11, 2011 in order to create the framework of the project – more to come!
The i-Olympiad is a hybrid sporting event. This idea cannot materialize without the use of the latest technology tools available and the collaboration of all the schools involved. It is a project sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Office of Overseas Schools and the project assists participating schools and regions in terms of curriculum quality and continuity, opportunities for collaboration, and progressive professional development. The i-Olympiad will meet each of the above by creating a richer quality in Physical Education and Sports programs for students and faculty.
ACS Athens Runs at the Race for the Cure
On Sunday morning of October 2nd, more than 11.000 people participated in the symbolic Run, Greece Race for the Cure® organized by the Pan-Hellenic Association of Women with Breast Cancer “Alma Zois” authorized by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® foundation. The aim of the race was to raise awareness about breast cancer and its early detection, as well as to celebrate life with all breast cancer survivors! Around the world, more than 1.3 million new breast cancer cases will be diagnosed this year, and almost 460.000 women will die. Every 69 seconds, somewhere in the world, a woman dies from breast cancer – the most prevalent cancer among women today. The Komen foundation is the world’s largest source of nonprofit funds for breast cancer. They have invested more than $1.9 billion in breast cancer research, community screening treatment and advocacy programs. ACS Athens was there to support and stood out with its presence at Zappeion. At the end of the race, Alma Zois announced that ACS Athens was the school with the largest number of participants! 230 students, teachers, staff, parents, and friends of ACS Athens ran for such a great cause! Mrs Kotsiani received the award as captain of ACS Athens team. The prize was 2 plane tickets from Aegean
by Athanasia Kotsiani, PE teacher
Air! ACS Athens organized a lottery to determine the two lucky winners. Constantine Tzouros and Mrs Tzouros won the two tickets. However, it was not the prize that made us proud; it was the fact that we managed to raise over 1500 euro (double than last year) for this philanthropic event and gathered together for a good cause. Great job ACS Athens!
“Textbooks’ second life”
This is an excerpt from an article by Alexandra Tzavella in the October 29, 2011 issue of the Kathimerini newspaper. It emphasizes the ACS textbook lending program and was published at a time when Greek public schools were facing a shortage of textbooks.
“…The textbooks Joanna Paneras received from school this year were not brand new. I am browsing through the 9th Grade “European History” textbook. The weathered cover is taped to the binding. Other than that, it’s in tip-top shape. There are only a few notes penciled into the margins, in various handwritings. “There is room for mine too” says the 15 year old. Until last year, Joanna was a student at the Papagos public school and each year she was given brand new textbooks, free of charge. “At the end of each school year, we would walk on torn pages scattered through the school’s hallways. My textbooks from last year are in a box.” The first thing she learned at ACS Athens is that the textbooks do not live for a single year, but for as long as the student “allows” them to live. ACS Athens implements a lend-and-reuse model for textbooks. Joanna is the ninth student to add her name to the inside cover of the textbook, which was first used in 2003. According to John Papadakis, Director of Communication, Enrollment and Technology at ACS Athens, “we aim to have every textbook returned and reused for at least 5 years. Every year the school spends 100,000 euros to purchase American publications, some cheap and some expensive. We reuse all of them as well as books from the Greek state textbook publishing house (OE∆Β).” The American system of textbook lending is managed through the student’s ID: Each student is registered in a system that tracks how many textbooks are hold. Depending on their class every student is charged 150-170 euros at the beginning of the school year. This charge covers textbook use as well as everything else that the student will need from the library and comes with an obligation to return all textbooks in June. “If they destroy or lose them, they have to pay for them”, states Ms Marietta Garbis, administrator of the ACS Athens bookstore. Ms. Garbis is also the book “doctor”: she restores books daily that have been worn out due to extensive use. “There are some books that are in use since 1982”, she says. “Out of the 66 nationalities in the school, Greek students are the ones who will statistically destroy a textbook more often; Korean and Japanese seldom do. Last year, the 850 students who borrowed textbooks returned only one book which was destroyed: An expensive publication worth 50 euros, which the student had to pay for.” “It’s a matter of mentality. At the Greek public school, it is considered ‘cool’ to burn your ancient Greek or Math textbooks. Here the book belongs to you only temporarily,” says Joanna. Furthermore, students don’t need to carry all their textbooks home every day, because they keep them in lockers, which is typical in the American educational system. ‘The main difference with the Greek system, lies in organization. We treat textbooks like an assistive tool and not as the only tool for teaching,” Mr. Papadakis points out. “The Greek system wastes a great amount of money each year on reprinting books. Why should the students get their textbooks free of charge, or even pay for them and then destroy them? That system functions immaturely’…”
The Textbook Chain (books... at the right time)
by Marianna Savvas, Administrative Assistant, Business Office, Procurement and Alumni Affairs
The book chain is not unlike the food chain. One starts with the grower and ends with you and your stomach; the other starts with the publisher and ends with you and your brain. In both cases, it is the steps in between that concern us. In the former, we want to be sure that our food is neither contaminated nor expensive, while in the latter, we want our books to be both low-priced and in our hands when we need them. With school books, this is an ultimate necessity because the end-users are students whose basic job is to read and study the books we place in their trusting hands. Hearing the words “Sorry, your books aren’t here yet” can only cause the child, teacher and parent anxiety. We had to face this every year in the past, as we struggled with the textbook chain. Getting our books on time and at a minimum cost was always the goal and the results varied…mostly good but not perfect. for approval. The principal’s secretary then input the approved orders into the computer system to create a purchase request, which is then delivered to the procurement office. This is when the most intense purchasing work takes its place. Where to start? As every year, we started with the list the teachers prepared for us. These lists include textbooks we have never used before, extra copies of textbooks we use but need more of, and the Educational supply materials that form the basis of our Primary School Program. With this in hand, the bidding process begins. Like every year, the list of textbooks and educational supplies are sent to six international bookstores in Greece. Bookstore venders are given at least four weeks to deliver their bid to us. Once all bids are turned in, we begin to examine and compare which bookseller provides the best price and availability. Once we have decided what to buy from each bookseller, we issue purchase orders requesting that all materials be on our school campus at the beginning of August, adding our positive thought that the first day of school will find the books in the hands of our students. When materials arrive on our campus, the bookstore staff begins the inventory process to assure that all quantities of textbooks and educational supplies ordered are correct (the school bookstore personnel is provided with a list of all textbook and supplies ordered with their quantity and prices). Once the above process has been completed, the bookstore staff members begin to barcode all the Academy textbooks and then place them on the bookstore shelves, whereas all Elementary and Middle School textbooks are stamped and delivered to the appropriate school teacher. In most years, we have had the books arrive on our campus on time. Then, there were those awkward years when our venders were less than successful. School started with few books in the hands of our students. From then on, it was agony for students, teachers and parents alike. Fewer books meant last minute changes in lesson plans, lots of photocopies and a syllabus that could not be easily followed. For this reason, ACS Athens has made the big decision to change the textbook and educational supplies ordering process. This will hopefully ensure that all items will be delivered to our campus on time before the new school year begins, an attempt that may also allow us to purchase textbooks and supplies at a lower price.
Past Textbook Chain Process
Teachers begin to examine possible textbooks by using different resources, such as web sites, catalogues and consulting with colleagues. Choosing new classroom resources is a decision that requires a lot of thought and investigation, to see how each fits in the curriculum. Once this component has been finalized…we continue on to the next. Each year in January, Department Heads are required to submit their request for purchase of textbooks and educational supply forms to their school building principal
rived mid-October because the distributor neglected to put our name and address on the address labels, so it went to the shipper’s “dead package office.”) In the end, we succeeded. We started early and left ourselves plenty of time to overcome problems. Some of the problems we encountered were books that were out of stock and needed reprinting, books that were out of print and gone forever, books from obscure publishers with no obvious distribution system, books we ordered but never arrived, books we received but never ordered, and (my personal favorite) books we had used for years, but were no longer exported from America because of copyright issues. It was an interesting enterprise and very successful for all, especially for our students who started out the school year with all those important books in their eager hands. It was especially gratifying for the Procurement and Business Office, who worked long and hard to assure that all materials arrived on time. In the end, after having received all the materials, the Business Office carefully compared the prices offered by the normal bookseller venders, and is delighted to announce that the school’s new way of ordering (orders purchased straight from the publisher), did not only ensure that all books arrived on time, but managed to procure the books with a 20% saving. Finally, a big thank you to all school personnel involved, teachers, administrative support and bookstore personnel, for their help and dedication in making this change possible.
And This Is How the New Book Chain Begins
This year 2011-12, ACS Athens changed the way it purchases its books. We decided to go at it on our own; to find out about that ‘mysterious’ book chain and solve it. The Business Office team would proceed to get our books: on time and low priced! First we had to learn about the supply chain which is so crucial to modern life. Here it is: Publisher to Distributor to Shipper to Bookseller to School to Student. Five steps that we were about to reduce to four. With the list of textbooks and educational supply materials in our hands, we had to decide where to order the books from. This is not always so easy. The publishing industry is a constantly moving and reshaping organism: sort of like a kaleidoscope. Publishers are bought, sold, merged and moved. Books that keep the same imprint name, change ownership. So the first job is to ensure access to a publishing data base. Fortunately, we were able to secure the use of two: one American and one British. Once we know where to order from, the question is, will the publisher or distributor sell us what we want? Put it in another way, do we have an account? Of course, anyone can order a book without an account from a bookseller. We do it every day on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. But, we need accounts with publishers and distributors. In some cases, it is even necessary to pay them in advance. After lots of trial and error we have our accounts and our orders ready, but how do the books get to us? For that we need a shipper. Not just any shipper, but one experienced in shipping books. One who will consolidate our orders. One who knows that not all books of a single order are shipped together. One who knows that large publishers and distributors have several warehouses and shipping depends on where supply is held. In other words, NOTHING IS EASY. In the past, our bookseller venders took care of these problems. Now it became our responsibility – even more than the shipper’s. (One small shipment only ar-
Hello fellow ACS Alumni! The ACS Athens Alumni board would like to thank you for your support during the past year. I am sure all the Alumni who have attended our events have had a great time catching up with many of their old classmates. We have been in office for almost a year and it seems that we were elected only yesterday even though we have organized four super successful events (Carnival Party, Rock Gig Live, Greek Taverna Glenti, Beach Party and one Open Session) that many former Alumni have attended, in addition to numerous board meetings. Once again we are grateful for your support. Keep rockin’ with us! It was wonderful to see all these people together again, going down memory lane and sharing ACS memories from 1973! Yes, graduates from 1973! Every decade is different, but the roots are too strong to break! We all share the school and have precious memories from each period: former teachers, lockers, familiar school scents, report cards, fear of test time, the senior Taverna, the sandwich store – still there by the way, bus monitors, detention, the yearbook and all the write-ups, lunch breaks, JV and Varsity teams, classic blue and yellow jackets, the student store. All these elements add up to friendships that last forever. Memories that stand the test of time and I am certain will never change. The list goes on and on. The only thing you have to do is scroll down the ACS Alumni Association Group page on Facebook and you will understand the strength that we, as an Association, have! Don’t forget that ACS gave us the most important values as individuals: to respect and be ethical. This is why we make the difference. As stated throughout the fiscal year, our main priority and objective is to bring as many Alumni closer to the association. Our aim is for you to become a “mainstay” and follow us throughout the year. As a board, we are nothing without you. This is our mission: to connect ACS Alumni from ALL graduating years. Have in mind that our monthly meetings are always open. We want you to join forces with us, bring up new ideas and concepts; the association is open and we would love to see you at one of our meetings.
by Demetrios V. Kiritsis, PhD, Board President, ACS Athens Alumni Association, Class of '84
Just meeting up with classmates that you haven’t seen in years and simply enjoying those few hours together is priceless. You can’t believe how touching it is to see ACS Alumni from the late 60’s and 70’s getting together at our events. It is pure magic and we want you to be part of it. You will be surprised! Just like our motto: ACS Alumni...a timeless connection. As JFK once stated, “if one person can make a difference then every person should try.” You can make that difference! Spread the word, join in on all the fun and re-connect with former ACSer’s. We will be posting details on the ACS official website (http://bit.ly/sgaMZT) of the school and our facebook page (http://on.fb.me/uwBzky) Join us! For additional information please contact Marianna Savvas at email@example.com, or myself at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you at one of our events. Take care!
Save the date!
ACS all classes/all school reunion 2012
by Ann Lappas-Stiles, Alumni Stateside Representative, Class of ‘66
Our next Stateside All Classes/All School Reunion will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico October 4-7, 2012. Plans are just getting underway. Take some time and look up the Annual Balloon Festival. This reunion will surely be a real delight watching the mass ascension of over 300 colorful and different balloons in the early morning. More details will be forthcoming in the next few weeks. For complete details contact Ann Lappas-Stiles at email@example.com. 1959-1964 CLASS GET TOGETHER IN OCEAN CITY, MARYLAND
Class of 1961, Then
Class of 1961, Today
Please note our schedule of events: • • • • • • •
November 18, 2011 - All-time Classic Annual Reunion February 2012 - Annual Carnival Party March 2012 - Annual Rock Gig Live April 2012 - Greek Live Party May 2012 - ACS Alumni Open Session (a retrospective of the Alumni Board) June 2012 - Annual Beach Party November 2012 - All-time Classic Annual Reunion
Standing, from left to right: Vicki Yiannias (‘60), Pam Warfield (’61), Tony Antonopoulos (‘60), Karen Childs (Rook) (‘62), Pete Linn (‘61), Sheron Johnson (Appleton)(‘63), Gary Appleton, Nick Vassil, Jackie Kidd (Aughe) (’61), Rosie Farrar (Smith) (‘62), Toni Grunenfelder (Wheaton) (’61), Butch Boheim (’61), Judy Farrar (Crean) (‘63), Larry Farrar, Gaelen Schell (Curtis) (‘64), Mary Jane Bitting Page (’61). Seated are: Avra Souval (‘59), and Christina Bitting (’61).
“Engaging minds, serving the world”
When I first read the above title, I was taken back to Mr. Milos’ class, all the way back in 1973, when I was sitting in Humanities. I still cannot understand, even to this day, what Mr. Milos was trying to teach me. As I thought about the football team and the upcoming game, I could not help but ponder what could I possibly teach the students at ACS, who are probably light years ahead of where I was at that age, just 37 years ago! Then, I began to think (something I do not do much nowadays) about what it was that helped me become successful in life. I quickly decided it certainly was not Humanities class. Was it History with Mr. Deutcher? Except he always used to say “throw them in the clink.” He must have meant jail and I did enjoy when he said it, although I am still not sure exactly what he meant by that. It also wasn’t Math with Mr. Yeros ( I hope I have not spelled his name wrong). Did he even teach math? It has been such a long time, it is hard to remember. Yet, I do remember playing organized sports, which had rules, and I remember if you played hard and followed the rules, you would be successful and sometimes, even manage to win a game. I had coaches who taught me plays, how to understand defense, what to do during a particular play: these taught me the importance of getting along. During the game there were referees who enforced the rules: if you are going to play the game, it is vital to learn as much as you can about the rules. Then, for some reason, during the practices and games, I began to realize that you had to do more than just show up to be successful. It took some extra effort and practicing on my own and with others outside of practice, such as playing football on the beach in Glyfada, which is no longer there, as homes have been built right where we used to have wonderful games. I realized that I had to memorize the plays, where the receivers were running, and know where the defense was during the play. In addition to playing football, I remember playing a lot of board games, such as Monopoly, Chess, Stratego, cards, Business Strategy, Business Management, Avolon Hill games, and so many others… oh yeah and Strat-0-Matic baseball. While growing up and during my high school years, I enjoyed playing these games with my family. So how did playing games help me become successful? I want to share with you that all games have rules. When you have a question about a procedure during game play, you read the rules, you constantly make predictions during the
by Joe Russo, Alumnus, class of '73, Corinthians
game about who will win, and you do whatever you can to maximize the possibility of winning. Yes, many games also involve a fair share of luck, but at the same time there are decisions that you are called to make that can minimize the luck factor and contribute to your win. Then, there were the games that allowed you to use your brain. While I enjoyed these games, I always managed to do better than 50 % of the people that I played against, especially in chess and checkers. In fact, I have found that by playing games you can also learn how to lose. It may be a secret, but guess what? You also can learn from losing. All this seems so simple, and it is. But then you need to study the body language of the football players you are going to throw the ball to, you need to learn the body language of the defense and how they react, what they will do, where they will run. You learn to understand this language and this knowledge helps you complete the play. When you are defending, you learn how to read the offensive players. I mean, can you imagine understanding who will get the ball, just by the way they exit the huddle? Does that put you at an advantage? Yes…you learn to “read” the quarter back, and where he will throw the ball. Okay, this is all very well, but why is Joe talking about football and playing board games? Very simply, these two areas are the building blocks of my success. While I am certain there are many ways to achieve success, either by being musically inclined, being a great swimmer, being taught how to cook by your parents or having your own business at an early age…there are just far too many to share here. But the two that I have mentioned were the ones that helped me become more successful. In short, I’m screaming at you now – do something! Do it to the fullest, understand that what you do now will indeed help you in the future. You will find the common denominator, and begin to make correlations between what you did at a younger age and what will help you later in life. Therefore, I leave you with this message: whatever you do, I am certain it will help you move through life, and become successful. However, I believe that not doing anything constructive will have the opposite effect. As I travel, I see children who do not participate in any organized sports, do not have board games; they just talk and giggle. You are right, who am I to say that these kids will not be successful? I cannot be 100% sure, but my gut feeling is that they will not be. I leave you with this: do as much as you can, do it well, learn from it, and do not worry, your future will be just fine. By Joe Russo, Class of ‘73 Corinthians (House Captain – this also helped me become successful in life)
Joe Russo, class of '73
Back then when...
by Sapfo Paleologou, Alumna
I am an alumna of ACS and I graduated sometime during the 80’s. Although I was born and raised in Greece, for various reasons I found myself at ACS from an early age. It wasn’t very common back then for a kid to go to a private school. It was even less common for a kid to go to a foreign private school. I remained at ACS for 8 years. Time went by, as it usually does, and I became a mom and the time came when my children had to go to school. My children are Greek, born to two Greek parents, so there was no question about it: they would go to a Greek school. The idea was for them to go to a public school for the elementary years, as there was a very good public school next to our house. Later, they would go to a private school for middle school (gymnasio) and high school (likio). We battled it out for four years with the eldest. She was a child who needed more academic commitment from her school and unfortunately, we realized that this was not happening. My husband and I spent a whole summer, literally, trying to decide where she would go. We soon realized that we were going around in circles because the options that we thought we had were not fulfilling the dreams we had for our children. So when we realized this, we opted for the only viable choice – ACS. Our endless discussions had finally come to an end. The decision was taken. Of course, we knew that our decision for her to transfer to ACS would consequently affect the academic future of our other two children. My husband, a graduate of a prestigious Greek public school was understandably reluctant. He didn’t know the philosophy or the system of ACS. He had to be convinced that we had made the right choice. However, that did not take long. By Christmas of that same school year, he was so impressed that I had to ask him to stop talking about the school when we were out with friends. Of course, another obstacle had to be surpassed as soon as we made this decision. Family and friends were surprised and critical that we would take our children out of the Greek school system and move them to a foreign one. “Why? What about their Greek language? That means that they have to go abroad to study? Are you turning your kids into foreigners?” This gave me the chance to talk to all those people about MY school and what I believed education is. ACS, my school, taught me valuable lessons such as the value of debate – the power to agree to disagree. I strongly believe that education needs to have an international language. It’s not the language you are taught in but what you learn and how you learn it. It is the holistic approach to knowledge that you acquire. It is when you are taught not to burn books at the end of the year, but to return them. When I was a student at ACS there were 45 nationalities and 1,700 students, a veritable melting pot of cultures. That is knowledge in itself. We had teachers who had taught all over the world; some would come for a few years, just like now, and they brought their experience with them which they shared with us. There were
other teachers who stayed on, true to the system, teachers who built brick upon brick, the foundation of the school. That was the best part of education: when our teachers would shut the books and start to talk to us about the world of experiences. There was one teacher, I don’t remember her name, but I DO remember that she had just come from spending 3 years in a village in Tunisia. I remember everything she told us about the living conditions there. How the homes were built, what games children played and how they respected her just because she was fair and very blonde. My high school French teacher, Mr. Angelonides, was a Greek from Madagascar. He shared his wisdom and world view with us. Another teacher told us one day that his brother had adopted a child some years back and that this child celebrates two birthdays with his adopted parents. One, his actual birthday and one, when they brought him to his new home. Both days were a celebration for this child. A whole discussion followed about the significance of this – it was beautiful. My high school Greek teacher, Mr Pisanias, a Greek from Alexandria, would analyze Cavafy to us with our books closed. He transported us to Egypt and brought the air of Alexandria, where Cavafy lived and wrote, to us. All this is knowledge. It is education. Not Greek. Not American. Just knowledge. Real knowledge. Knowledge I feel very lucky to have had the chance to acquire. It is the very knowledge that I wish for my children – a world of life on which they can build their future.
! ! !
"#$%&!"#$#'(#)*#&!-+.)/$)0'! ! +,%(-,!.%/'()0%1(#&!$+11)02%)*3+0 23,45"()6%&!.7&')6#&!2*41* Seating will be on a first-to-arrive, first-seated basis.
DEC. 17 2011
ARTS CENTER AT ACS ATHENS
The Arts Center at ACS is located on the campus of ACS Athens 129 Aghias Paraskevis and Kazantzakis St. Ano Halandri METRO: AGHIA PARASKEVI For info: 210-6393-200, ext. 302
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.